Dominic Cooper (pictured) – who, since his success as one of the original History Boys on stage and screen, has gone on to blockbuster films including Mamma Mia! and The Duchess - will return to the National Theatre in the new year to play Helen Mirren’s stepson and object of desire, Hippolytus, in Phaedra (See News, 17 Sep 2008).

Directed by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner, who also directed The History Boys (in which Cooper played another object of desire, Dakin), helms Phaedra opens in rep in the NT Lyttelton in June 2009 (exact dates still tbc).

Mirren, in her first stage role in six years, takes the title role in Jean Racine’s 1677 classic tragedy, in a version by Ted Hughes, based on a Greek myth about a queen who falls passionately in love with her stepson in her husband’s absence. She follows in the footsteps of other famous Phaedras including Glenda Jackson, Diana Rigg and, most recently, Clare Higgins, who tackled it at the Donmar Warehouse in 2006 when Ben Meyjes played Hippolytus.

Also so far confirmed for the NT’s cast of Phaedra is Margaret Tyzack, who will play Mirren’s nurse and confidante Oenone.


In other play casting news, Anne Reid will join Jonathan Pryce in the Douglas Hodge’s revival of Athol Fugard’s rarely seen 1975 play Dimetos, which runs from 25 March to 9 May 2009 (previews from 19 March) at the Donmar Warehouse (See News, 19 Sep 2008).

Written in 1975, Dimetos is a moving story about love, guilt, retribution and faith in a modern world of moral decay. Exhausted with life in the city as a highly skilled engineer, Dimetos (Pryce) escapes to a remote coastal village with his niece and housekeeper (Reid) in search of a simpler existence. Five years on, a stranger from the metropolis arrives to tempt him back with devastating consequences.

BAFTA-nominated for the film The Mother, Anne Reid’s other screen credits include Dinnerladies, Coronation Street, Life Begins, Jane Eyre, Bleak House and The Bad Mother’s Handbook on TV and Hot Fuzz on film. Her recent stage credits include The York Realist, Wild Oats, Epitaph for George Dillon, Into the Woods and, at the National earlier this year, Happy Now?.


And, ahead of that (See News, 24 Oct 2008), Lyndsey Marshal will complete the cast of Jamie Lloyd’s West End revival of Richard Greenberg’s 1997 play Three Days of Rain at the Apollo Theatre, joining James McAvoy and Nigel Harman in the three-hander which has a limited season from 10 February to 9 May 2009 (previews from 30 January).

Three Days of Rain explores the secrets passed from one generation to the next. When two architecture partners die, they leave their children the mysterious legacy of a house they designed. The past, including an inexplicable diary entry containing the words \'three days of rain\', is delved and re-interpreted until the audience is taken back to the earlier generation (played by the same three actors) to discover the truth.

Marshal plays the female role taken by Elizabeth McGovern in the UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse in 1999 and by Hollywood star Julia Roberts in a 2006 Broadway revival. Marshal won the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Newcomer for David Mamet’s Boston Marriage which was at the Donmar in 2001 ahead of a West End transfer. Her other stage credits include A Matter of Life and Death, Blood Wedding, Sleeping Beauty, Redundant and, back at the Donmar last year, Absurdia. Ahead of Three Days of Rain, she\'ll appear in The Pride at the Royal Court. On screen, her credits include Festival, The Hours and the TV series Rome, in which she played Cleopatra.

- by Terri Paddock