What you wanna see, if you’re gonna go to Harman Hall this fall, is the National Theatre’s remount of Phèdre. But you can’t. You can’t because it’s just a 10-day run, and you can’t because it’s starring Helen Mirren, our lady of the Italian castle and the penchant for hanging about in the altogether. (True fact: She’s a naturist.) And 10 days plus sexpot sixtysomething superstar means that single tickets for Racine’s savagely racy tragedy—it’s about a Greek queen with a yen for her own stepson, and it does not end well—sold out in about nine seconds. So unless you’re planning to buy a four- or six-play package—or spritz a ticket-holding buddy’s doorknob with Essence of Swine Flu—you’re SOL for the biggest event of the STC season. You could give The Alchemist a shot, starting in October: It’s a 400-year-old satire from Ben Jonson, and he was no slouch in the comedy department. (Nor is director Michael Kahn, who made sharply funny work of Jonson’s The Silent Woman back in aught-three.)
Phèdre runs to Sept. 26 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. Sold out. The Alchemist runs Oct. 6 to Nov. 22 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. $36–$70. (202) 547-1122..