Hardy, 87, recently suffered a fall and cracked some ribs, yet continued to perform at all of the preview performances last week. Over the weekend the actor decided that a schedule of eight performances a week is not sustainable.
Hardy’s understudy, David Peart, will continue in the role of Winston Churchill until a replacement has been found.
The producers, according to a press statement, "would like to thank Robert Hardy for his extraordinary contribution to the production and they wish him a speedy recovery."
Director Stephen Daldry added, “Robert is one of theatre’s great actors and for him to have accepted this challenge at his age speaks of his courage and commitment to the theatre. That he feels unable to continue is a great sadness to us all but we respect his decision and wish him a return to full health and strength very soon.”
The company also features Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson, Nathaniel Parker as Gordon Brown, Paul Ritter as John Major and Rufus Wright as David Cameron. The Equerry is Geoffrey Beevers, and the role of Young Elizabeth is played by Bebe Cave, Maya Gerber and Nell Williams. David Peart plays James Callaghan, who is joined by ensemble members Jonathan Coote, Ian Houghton and Charlotte Moore.
The production, which began previews Feb. 15, will officially open March 5.
The Audience is produced in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries.
For more information visit theaudienceplay.com.