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A Fiennes Romance

As comfortable on the boards as he is on film sets, Ralph Fiennes returns this February to London’s National Theatre in the role of Jack Tanner, the radical intellectual, Don Juan–esque lead of George Bernard Shaw’s 1903 tragicomedy, Man and Superman.

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Director Simon Godwin says Fiennes “has an incredible dexterity with language” that makes him “really well equipped” to play the voluble Tanner. “Jack’s speeches are so long,” Godwin adds. “You need an actor who can make them make sense and also be witty, can blend the comic and the philosophical.” With an actor like Fiennes in place, Godwin was left to address the directorial challenges of the play. “We’re trying to respect the fact that the play”—a meditation on love, sex, wealth, and power, in which the devil makes an appearance— “is a kind of myth, a kind of fairy tale,” Godwin says. “But within that, there’s a great relevance to now.” Through May 17; South Bank; nationaltheatre.org.uk.

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