Jodie Whittaker returns to London stage to play The Duchess

Jodie Whittaker is returning to the stage for the first time in over a decade in a version of John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, adapted and directed by Zinnie Harris.

It means that three Doctor Who stars will be appearing in London theatres at the same time. Whittaker will take the title role in The Duchess at Trafalgar theatre from 5 October to 20 December. Meanwhile David Tennant will reprise his role in Macbeth, which transfers from the Donmar Warehouse to the Harold Pinter theatre from 1 October. In November, Ncuti Gatwa – who is currently playing the Doctor in the BBC’s long-running sci-fi series – will star in The Importance of Being Earnest at the National Theatre.

Whittaker said she is “beyond delighted” to lead Harris’s adaptation, which was first staged under the title The Duchess (of Malfi) at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh in 2019. “Zinnie has so brilliantly propelled The Duchess of Malfi into contemporary culture, which is what originally drew me to the piece,” said Whittaker. “Being able to portray the Duchess’s tragic and captivating story on stage every night is a true honour.” The Guardian’s Mark Fisher wrote that Harris’s version “reframes a canonical tragedy in terms of sexual politics” and added: “As the recently widowed survivor of a miserable marriage, this duchess is a young woman determined to set her own agenda.”

Jodie Whittaker with Annabel Scholey in Antigone at the National Theatre, London, in 2012. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Harris’s play Macbeth (An Undoing) has been nominated for four Drama Desk awards in New York this month. It was recently announced that she is adapting Neil Gaiman’s novella Coraline as a musical with composer Louis Barabbas.

Whittaker’s previous stage roles include Antigone in Polly Findlay’s production of Sophocles’s tragedy at the National Theatre in 2012 opposite another former Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.

The Guardian