McKellen's major roles have included Max in Martin Sherman's harrowing play Bent and Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. He has also performed two well-received one-man shows, Acting Shakespeare and A Knight Out.
He now returns to the West End in Strindberg's theatrical masterpiece Dance of Death. Strindberg created, in Dance of Death, a 25 year-old marriage well past its sell-by date. Living in what they both term their "Little Hell," Edgar, a soldier, and Alice, a former actress, have the possibility of a sort of salvation when a figure from their past reappears. Will they be saved or will he join them in their 'hell'?
McKellen was showered with accolades for his performance in Dance of Death on Broadway. In London he plays opposite Frances de la Tour, herself last seen on the Avenue in Coward's Fallen Angels, where she starred opposite Felicity Kendal. They are joined by Owen Tearle, recently seen in the title role of Chekhov's Ivanov at the National.