Michael Frayn's new play Democracy is to open at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre on 9 September 2003. This world premiere will be directed by Michael Blakemore and will star Olivier Award winners Roger Allam and Conleth Hill.

The story is set in West Germany in 1969 where Willy Brandt begins his brief but remarkable career as the first left-of-centre Chancellor for nearly 40 years. Always present but rarely noticed is Gunter Guillaume, Brandt’s devoted PA – and no less devoted in his other role, spying on Brandt for the Stasi.

Michael Frayn is an internationally acclaimed novelist and playwright, his most recent book Spies won the 2002 Whitbread Prize for Best Novel. His play Copenhagen won the Evening Standard, South Bank Show and Critic’s Circle Best New Play Awards amongst others. Frayn seems to be able to turn his hand to any genre and his wide repertoire includes Noises off , Benefactors (both of them revived in the west end in the last two years), Make or Break, Donkey’s Years, Clouds and Alphabetical Order.

The Australian-born director Blakemore - whose Broadway transfer of Kiss Me Kate won Evening Standard, Critics Circle and Whatsonstage.com Awards last year - was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List in February of this year. His other stage productions have included the National's Copenhagen (another multi-award winner, on both sides of the Atlantic) and another Michael Frayn play, Clouds, and Arthur Miller's Mr Peter’s Connections

Roger Allam will play Willy Brandt, his previous National credits include Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard, Hitler in Albert Speer and Money. He was recently seen in the West End alongside Gillian Anderson in What the Night is For. He won the Olivier Award for Best Actor in 2000 and in 2002 for, respectively, Summerfolk at the National and Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse.

Conleth Hill will be making his National debut in the part of Gunter. In 2001, Hill won the Olivier for Best Actor for Stones in His Pockets which he performed in London, Ireland, Toronto and New York.

The set for Democracy will be designed by Peter J Davidson, costumes by Sue Wilmington, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Neil Alexander.

- by Hannah Kennedy