Tom Hiddleston cast as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse

By Tim Masters
Entertainment and arts correspondent, BBC News

image captionTom Hiddleston starred in the BBC's Shakespearean series The Hollow Crown last year

Tom Hiddleston is to play the title role in Coriolanus as part of the autumn season at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Avengers star last appeared on stage at the tiny London venue in 2008.

Directed by Josie Rourke, the Shakespearean drama opens in December with Mark Gatiss also in the cast.

August sees the premiere of Nick Payne's drama The Same Deep Water As Me, about "cash for crash" lawyers.

Following in October, Call the Midwife star Jessica Raine and Linda Bassett are to star in Arnold Wesker's Roots.

"At the centre of all these plays is a sense of young people trying to find their place in the world," said Rourke, the Donmar's artistic director, announcing the season on Monday.

Describing Hiddleston "one of our leading young classical actors", Rourke said she envisaged Coriolanus would be a "contemporary" production.

She said early discussions with 32-year-old Hiddleston about the role of the Roman general had centred on "ideas about militarism and what being an extraordinary warrior does to your mind".

Since appearing in Donmar productions Othello and Ivanov in 2008, Hiddleston has gone on to achieve international fame in films such as The Avengers, Thor, The Deep Blue Sea, War Horse and Midnight in Paris.

In 2012 he played Henry V in the BBC's Shakespeare series The Hollow Crown.

image captionJessica Raine is best known for playing the lead role in the BBC drama, Call the Midwife

The world premiere of Nick Payne's The Same Deep Water As Me, directed by John Crowley, opens the season with a cast that includes Daniel Mays, Nigel Lindsay and Monica Dolan.

The story is set partly in the Luton offices of a personal injury claims firm. Rourke said the play had been inspired by a meeting between Payne and her brother, who prosecutes minor fraudulent insurance claims.

"Nick is fascinated within that play about the idea of lying," she said. Payne's most recent work, Constellations, won the Evening Standard award for best new play and was nominated for best new play at the Olivier Awards.

The revival of Wesker's 1958 play Roots, directed by James Macdonald, sees Jessica Raine in the role of Beatie Bryant - a young woman finding her voice at a time of unprecedented social change.

"We talk a lot when we programme plays here about finding great parts for great women and that is certainly one of them," said Rourke.

Rourke's next directing project is the world premiere of Matt Charman's new work, The Machine, about the epic chess battle in 1997 between Garry Kasparov and chess computer Deep Blue.

The play is part of July's Manchester International Festival and transfers to New York in September.

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