Juliette Binoche and Samuel Edward-Cook in Antigone. Photo by Jan Versweyveld.
Juliette Binoche and Samuel Edward-Cook in Antigone. Photo by Jan Versweyveld.

With Keira Knightley, Juliette Binoche, and Nina Arianda all tackling meaty stage roles this fall, New York theater fans may have morereason than usual to gloat. Knightley makes her Broadway debut in Thérèse Raquin (Roundabout Theater Company’s Studio 54), based on the Emile Zola novel about a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage who dives into a dangerous liaison with her husband’s childhood friend. Binoche, meanwhile, takes on a contemporary version of Sophocles’s Antigone (Brooklyn Academy of Music). The title character, one of the great heroinesof Greek drama, forsakes country for blood ties in her quest to bury her dead brother after he’s been decreed a traitor. Were thisa horse race, I’d put my money on Arianda, best known for her breakout 2012 Tony Award–winning performance in David Ives’s simmering Venus in Fur. This season, she stars as May in SamShepard’s Fool for Love (Manhattan Theater Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theater),about two former lovers holed up in aseedy motel hashing out their tangled hold on each other. For Arianda, the production offers the chance to explore “what it’s like to know and feel unconditional love—the good and thebad of it,” she says. The stamina required to play the emotionally bruising role is something she admits she’s still grappling with. “How do yourebound from where you have to go every night? How do you come home and leave it behind?” Audiences will likely ask themselves the same thing about her gut-kicking performance.