Janet McTeer plays the title role in Seneca’s tragedy, Phaedra, at the National Theatre in spring 2023.
The ancient Roman tragedy details the Greek mythologies of Phaedra, King Theseus of Athens, and Phaedra’s stepson Hippolytus. It’s not the only play to explore these ideas: Jean Racine’s and Sarah Kane’s Phaedra-based dramas follow similar subject matter. But in Seneca’s first-century story, the queen has an overbearing self-awareness unlike any other.
After years of focusing on her political career, Phaedra, the wife of King Theseus of Athens, turns to her personal life. When her stepson Hippolytus reappears, all her thoughts are shaken up — she falls for the child. Will Phaedra destroy everything she has built?
Despite her husband's wishes, Phaedra cannot control her desire for Hippolytus and eventually confesses her love to him. However, Hippolytus refuses her advances and tells his father of Phaedra's feelings towards him. Theseus calls upon the gods to punish them all.
Simon Stone adapts Phaedra at the National Theatre. His 2016 adaptation of Yerma at the Young Vic won the Olivier Award for Best Revival, and its star Billie Piper won the Olivier for Best Actress. In a Yerma review for London Theatre, our critic said: "Stone's text is consistently bracing, urgent and ultimately tragic... this is a modern spin on a well-worn text that redefines this play and forces you to consider it as a piece of new writing."
Janet McTeer plays Phaedra, renamed Helen for this production.
Who is Janet McTeer?
Janet McTeer is an accomplished stage actress known for her versatile and dynamic performances. She won an Olivier and a Tony Award for her performance as Nora Helmer in A Doll's House. Her recent stage credits include Bernhardt/Hamlet and Mary Stuart, both on Broadway.
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Captioned Performances: Saturday 18 February 2.15pm, Wednesday 15 March 7.30pm and Wednesday 5 April 2.15pm
BSL Interpreted Performance: Tuesday 28 March 7.30pm
Audio Described Performances: Thursday 23 February 7.30pm and Saturday 1 April 2.15pm
Chilled Performance: Wednesday 22 March 2.15pm
Cast and creative
By: Simon Stone
Director: Simon Stone
Cast list: Rhys Bailey, Archie Barnes, Assaad Bouab, Paul Chahidi, Mackenzie Davis, Nicholas Gauci, Mohsen Ghaffari, Akiya Henry, John Macmillan, Johanne Murdock, Janet McTeer, Nadia Nadif, Emmanuel Olusanya, Sirine Saba, Dot Williams
Set: Chloe Lamford
Costume: Mel Page
Lighting: James Farncombe
Sound: Stefan Gregory