Thesp sets West End return
LONDON — Jeremy Irons will return to the West End for the first time in nearly 20 years to headline a new Christopher Hampton play, “Embers,” directed by Michael Blakemore.Produced by Portobello Films exec Eric Abraham along with Robert Haggiag, play will open March 1 at the Duke of York’s; previews start Feb. 15. Set in a war-ravaged Europe in 1940, the play is based on a novel by Hungarian Sandor Marai. In it, Irons plays a retired general awaiting the return of a friend he hasn’t seen for several decades; that role has yet to be cast. Irons’ last London stage appearance was in the Royal Shakespeare Co. production of Aphra Behn’s “The Rover,” in 1987. Before that, he starred on Broadway in the 1984 U.S. preem of “The Real Thing,” for which he won a Tony. Producer Abraham previously worked with Irons on the film “Danny the Champion of the World.” Irons had been mooted for numerous other stagings, including a revival of “Private Lives” to pair him and Janet McTeer, but none had come to pass. An Oscar winner himself for “Kolya,” Abraham has increasingly been making his legit presence felt. He is a co-producer on the upcoming Pirandello revival “As You Desire Me,” opening Oct. 27 at the Playhouse. At the Duke of York’s, “Embers” will follow the limited run of Doug Wright’s “I Am My Own Wife,” starring Jefferson Mays.