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Mirren to tread boards after six-year absence

Dame Helen Mirren is to return to the stage for the first time in six years. The Oscar-winning actress, 63, will star in a three-month run of Jean Racine's 17th-century drama, Phèdre, at the National Theatre.

Mirren has been in talks with the National's director, Nicholas Hytner, for months after expressing an interest in returning to the stage. Mr Hytner said he would direct the play himself.

The drama is a tragedy set in ancient Greece. Mirren will play the wife of Theseus, King of Athens, who burns with a forbidden passion for her stepson, Hippolytus. She follows in the footsteps of other distinguished Phèdres including Glenda Jackson, Dame Diana Rigg, and most recently Clare Higgins at the Donmar Warehouse in London. The production will co-star Margaret Tyzack.