Heads Up: Berenice, The Donmar Warehouse, London
The lines of beauty? Booker-winner turns Donmar dramatist
What are we talking about? A new version of 17th-century French dramatist Jean Racine's tragedy of unrequited and unfulfilled love, Berenice, which is playing at the Donmar Warehouse.
Elevator pitch Ooh la la! Hollinghurst adapts the lines of Racine.
Prime movers The big draw here is the new pen at work: the play's been re-imagined by Booker-prize-winning novelist Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty; The Stranger's Child). It's directed by Josie Rourke, the artistic director at the Donmar, the third show she's helmed at the theatre in her opening season.
The stars Not bad on the big-name front either: Anne-Marie Duff (currently lighting up the small screen with turns in The Accused and Parade's End) takes the title role, while Stephen Campbell Moore (an original History Boy) is her lover Titus, Emperor of Rome. His best mate, Antiochus, who turns out not to be impartial to Berenice's charms either, is played by Dominic Rowan, fresh from glowing reviews for his Torvald in the Young Vic's A Doll's House.
The early buzz Baz Bamigboye wrote in the Daily Mail: "Anne-Marie Duff will play a queen stuck in the middle of an unrequited love triangle.
The award-winning star will take the title role in Berenice, the story of a Palestinian queen who waits for the Roman emperor Titus to come and marry her."
Insider knowledge It's not Hollinghurst's first brush with Racine – the author also translated his play Bajazet back in 1990, and there was a production of his version at the Almeida theatre.
It's great that … Berenice will place Duff centre stage – she impressed critics last time she was in a production at this intimate theatre, in Days of Wine and Roses. But that was back in 2005, and while her star has risen with TV and film roles, she continues to excel on stage, most recently starring in the Old Vic's production of Cause Célèbre. Don't miss this chance to see her up close and personal.
It's a shame that … getting a ticket will now require some persistence – the run is already sold out, but there are between 10 and 20 day seats available for each performance; get to the theatre for 10am to queue for tickets, or, in the event these aren't snapped up, you can try your luck online at noon.
The details Berenice is at the Donmar Warehouse, London WC2 (donmarwarehouse.com), 27 September to 24 November.
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