Irons was last with the RSC in the 1986-87 season, when he played Leontes in The Winter's Tale and the title role in Richard II. He won the 1984 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing. Most recently, he was seen on Broadway in the short-lived premiere of Michael Jacobs' Impressionism in 2009. He was last seen on the London stage in 2008 playing British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in Howard Brenton's Never So Good at the Royal National Theatre, and prior to that was seen in Embers at the Duke of York's. His extensive film and TV credits include "Georgia O'Keefe" (for Lifetime TV), "Elizabeth I" (HBO Films/Channel 4), "Appaloosa," "Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Merchant of Venice."
Irons plays Colm, who has taken a lifetime to build his empire. With brutal rigor, he has shaped the world around him in his own image. When he decides to divide power between his subordinates, the world he has created rapidly begins to fracture. Having unleashed a bloody power struggle, he is forced to confront the very human cost of his actions as around him the body count begins to rise. Described in press materials as a savage new play, it explores what happens when corporate greed and state security frighteningly overlap.
In a press statement, the playwright has commented, "I wanted to write about power; attaining power, what power gives us, what it lacks and what life is like when it is gone and we are left powerless. During the current economic crisis I became obsessed with how power changes hands and that how, in any historical moment, it resides with a particular group of people, and that no matter who these people are, whether they are kings, queens, parliaments, feudal lords, business magnates or a democratic electorate, it is almost impossible for them to imagine power shifting into other hands. And yet, eventually, it always does."
Kelly's other recent plays include Orphans, DNA, Love and Money and Osama the Hero, which premiered at Hampstead Theatre. He is also currently under commission by the RSC to write the book for the new musical Matilda, to be staged in Stratford-upon-Avon in late 2010.
The play is directed Maria Aberg, who has directed Roy Williams' Days of Significance for the RSC, and whose other credits include State of Emergency (Gate Theatre), Crime and Punishment (National Theatre), Alaska (Royal Court), Gustav III (National Theatre of Sweden) and Stallerhof (Southwark Playhouse). The play is designed by Naomi Dawson, with lighting by David Holmes and sound by Carolyn Downing. Video and projection designers are Ian William Galloway and Finn Ross. Movement is by Ayse Tashkiran with fights directed by Malcolm Ranson.
The cast also includes Nikki Amuka-Bird (Beth), Karen Archer (Astrologer), Neal Barry (Ian), Babou Ceesay (Gavin), Sam Hazeldine (Old Soldier/Beth’s husband), Joanna Horton (Barbara), Stephen Noonan (Richard), Luke Norris (Jimmy), Sally Orrock (Nadine), Helen Schlesinger (Catherine), Laurence Spellman (Martin), John Stahl (Castile) and Matthew Wilson (Security Guard).
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0207 722 9301 or visit www.hampsteadtheatre.com