Entertainment & Arts

Ben Whishaw takes on Greek tragedy for London stage

Ben Whishaw Image copyright PA
Image caption Ben Whishaw has already had a substantial stage career

Bond star Ben Whishaw is to star in a Greek tragedy at the Almeida theatre in north London.

The actor, who will reprise his role as Q in the new 007 film Spectre, will play Dionysos in a new version of Euripides' Bakkhai.

The role marks Wishaw's debut at the theatre, known for being more artistically edgy than venues in the heart of the West End.

The play is part of the theatre's 2015 Greek season, announced on Thursday.

"At the Almeida we strive to create theatre that asks questions of its audiences, of who they are and the world they live in, work that is alive and resonant," said creative director Rupert Goold.

"When we came to the writers of Ancient Greece we wanted to be true to their plays - staging them in full complexity, presenting their formal iconoclasm, their humour, musicality, politics, violence and unswerving drama."

Image copyright Publicity
Image caption Ben Whishaw took on the task of voicing Paddington when Colin Firth stepped down

The season will run from May to November and other highlights include new versions of Oresteia and Medea as well as talks, readings and events designed to give the public a rounded understanding of the era.

Bakkhai is described by the Almeida as an "electrifying tragedy... a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god".

The story tells of Pentheus, king of Thebes, who enters into a conflict with Dionysos by banning the wild, ritualistic worship of the god.

A stranger arrives to persuade him to change his mind - but the king cannot escape Dionysos' anger - and, ultimately, his punishment.

Whishaw will bring in the audiences as one of the UK's brightest young talents.

His stage work is already substantial and includes roles in a West End production of Mojo by Jez Butterworth; His Dark Materials and The Seagull, both at the National Theatre; and Hamlet at the Old Vic.

On the big screen, Whishaw first took on the role of 007's gadget designer Q for 2012's Skyfall.

He most recently voiced the CGI character of Paddington in 2014's big screen hit of the same name.

His other films include Enduring Love, Layer Cake, Perfume, Stoned, I'm Not There, Brideshead Revisited, Bright Star, The Tempest, Cloud Atlas and Lilting.

Later this year, he will appear opposite Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz in The Lobster and alongside Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter in Suffragette.

Whishaw won a TV Bafta for the BBC adaptation of Richard II. He's also had TV roles in The Hour, Nathan Barley and Criminal Justice, for which he won best actor awards at the Emmys and the Royal Television Society.

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