Philip Massinger's tragedy, The Roman Actor, was first performed in 1626, as King James I's reign came to an end and his son Charles I acceded to the throne. Three years later, when the play was published, relations between the king and many in parliament and the country had worsened. The Roman Actor - until recently neglected in the theatre but regarded by many critics, and Massinger himself, as his finest play - explores the balance between private and public moralities, effectively condemns tyranny, and defends plays, anatomising both the theatre of power and the power of theatre. This new Revels Plays volume provides a modernised text, with a thorough introduction that sets out Massinger's intervention in the political tensions of his own time and examines his clear-eyed portrayal of the pleasures and perils of performance. It also includes a detailed commentary on the play designed to be of value to students, specialist readers and performers, and an appendix discussing the play's textual history. The edition focuses on the play's theatrical life in its own time and ours and, in addition to a detailed stage history, includes an interview with Sir Antony Sher, who played the role of the tyrannical Roman emperor, Domitian, in the Royal Shakespeare Company's acclaimed production in 2002.