Christopher Marlowe’s first play, Dido Queen Of Carthage, tells of Aeneas who, seeking refuge from a violent storm, lands on the shore of Carthage. There Queen Dido, moved by Aeneas’s retelling of the fall of Troy and bewitched by a malevolent Cupid, soon burns with love. The pair’s ensuing passion, manipulated by the watching, warring gods, can only end in tragedy.
Written when Marlowe was an undergraduate, the wit, the daring and the sheer poetry of Dido Queen Of Carthage were so new and exciting in English theatre that Hamlet was still talking about it seventeen years later.
Anastasia Hille plays the title character in Dido Queen Of Carthage. The actress is an old hand at Greek tragedy on the South Bank, having previously appeared in Women Of Troy and The Oresteia at the National, where her other credits include Waves, Macbeth, Marat/Sade and Richard III. Hille’s television credits include Cutting It and Silent Witness, and she has appeared in films such as Good, The Abandoned and The Hole.
James Macdonald, who directs Dido Queen Of Carthage, has previously directed plays such as Caryl Churchill’s Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? at the Royal Court, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross at the Apollo theatre and James Joyce’s Exiles at the National.
Elizabethan playwright Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare whose name is synonymous with tales of spying and brawling, in addition to Dido Queen Of Carthage wrote plays including Tamburlaine, The Jew Of Malta and Doctor Faustus.