Irons Returns After 17 Years for Embers PremiereDate: 7 October 2005
Jeremy Irons (pictured) will return to the London stage next year for the first time in 17 years to star in the world premiere of Embers. The new play - adapted by Christopher Hampton from the best-selling novel of the same name and directed by Michael Blakemore – will open at the West End’s Duke of York’s on 1 March 2006 (previews from 15 February).
Written by the late Hungarian Sandor Marai in 1942, the slim novel was recently rediscovered and became an international best-seller when it was published in English and German in 2002. Embers is set in 1940 in war-torn Europe. In a Hungarian castle, retired general Henrik (Irons) awaits the arrival of Konrad, the one-time friend of him and his beautiful wife Kriztina, who he hasn’t seen in decades. Long after Konrad’s departure and Kriztina’s death, Henrik still has questions that need answering.
Though Irons appeared regularly on stage earlier in his career – not least opposite Glenn Close in a Broadway production of The Real Thing, for which he won the 1984 Best Actor Tony – he is now best known internationally for his films. Those include Brideshead Revisited, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Dead Ringers, Reversal of Fortune (for which he won a Best Actor Academy Award), Damage, Die Hard III, Stealing Beauty, The Man in the Iron Mask, Longitude, The Merchant of Venice and Kingdom of Heaven. On television, he’s just been seen opposite Helen Mirren in Elizabeth I.
Irons has had brief appearances on stage in recent years – appearing in Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl and A Little Night Music in New York and narrating the one-off performance of A Soldier’s Tale at West End’s Old Vic last November (See News, 15 Oct 2004) – but his last full London stage production was in 1988, when he played Richard II in Aphra Behn’s The Rover for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Mermaid Theatre.
Embers is presented in the West End by debut theatre producers, Eric Abraham and Robert Haggiag, who are both better known for their TV and film credits including A Murder of Quality, Dalziel and Pascoe, Moulin Rouge, El Cid, The Barefoot Contessa and Lolita. Casting is now under way for the three-hander’s other parts, Konrad and Henrik’s servant at the castle.
Currently at the Duke of York’s, Ray Cooney’s 23rd West End comedy, Tom, Dick and Harry will now close on 29 October (See News, 4 Oct 2005). It’s followed by a limited 14-week season of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning one-man play I Am My Own Wife, which opens on 10 November 2005 (See Today’s Other News).
- by Terri Paddock