Set against a backdrop of fading Empire, the Suez crisis, vintage champagne , adultery and vicious Tory politics, Brenton's play is based on the life and career of Macmillan, who was Britain's Prime Minister from Jan. 11, 1957 to Oct. 18, 1963, but was, according to the publicity materials for the play, "tragically out of kilter with his times."
Irons was last seen on the London stage when he appeared in Christopher Hampton's Embers at the Duke of York's in October 2006. He was in the original London cast of Godspell in the early '70s. His other stage roles include the title role of Richard II for the RSC and starring in the original Broadway production of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, opposite Glenn Close, in 1984, for which he received that year's Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. More recently, he starred as Fredrick Egerman in New York City Opera's 2003 staging of Sondheim's A Little Night Music at Lincoln Center. His film work includes "Eragon," "Stealing Beauty," "Reversal of Fortune" (winning the Best Actor Oscar), "The French Lieutenant's Woman" and "Betrayal." His leading TV roles include "Elizabeth I," "Longitude," "Brideshead Revisited" and "Tales from Hollywood."
Brenton's previous plays at the National include Paul, Weapons of Happiness, The Romans in Britain and Pravda (co-written with David Hare). Other plays include In Extremis (seen at Shakespeare's Globe in 2006 and 2007), Bloody Poetry and The Churchill Play. For TV, he has written episodes of the spy thriller series "Spooks."
The production is directed by Howard Davies (A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic which transferred to Broadway, and National Theatre productions of Present Laughter, Philistines, The Life of Galileo, Paul, The House of Bernarda Alba and Mourning Becomes Electra). The cast also includes Anthony Calf, Anna Carteret, Bertie Carvel (recently seen in the lead role of Parade at the Donmar Warehouse), Anna Chancellor, Peter Forbes, Clive Francis, Robert Glenister, Terrence Hardiman, Ian McNeice and Terence Wilton.
To book tickets, contact the box office at 020 7452 3000. For more details, visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.