Irons to play Harold Macmillian in National debut

Lalayn Baluch

Jeremy Irons is to make his National Theatre debut as Harold Macmillan in Never So Good, a new play by Howard Brenton which opens on March 19.

Playing alongside Irons on the Lyttelton stage will be Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill, in the production directed by Howard Davies.

Ralph Fiennes, Juliet Binoche and Vanessa Redgrave are also to appear in the Southbank venue’s 2008 line-up, which has been described by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner as his most ambitious season yet.

The £10 Travelex season will begin on March 4 in the Olivier Theatre with Hytner taking the helm of Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, featuring Simon Russell Beale, Hayley Atwell, Clare Higgins and Paul Ready.

Olivier highlights also include Jasper Britton and Sian Thomas in Fram – a new play by Tony Harrison – directed by Harrison and Bob Crowley, Rory Kinnear as Vindice in Thomas Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy, and a revival of Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

Jonathan Kent is set to direct Ralph Fiennes in the title role of Oedipus, and sell-out show War Horse will return to the venue in November.

The 2008 season in the Cottesloe is to begin as previously announced with Lucinda Coxon’s play Happy Now? directed by Thea Sharrock. In July, Katie Mitchell recreates Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, featuring Ben Whishaw, and the following month her show Waves will return to the Cottesloe for a limited run before embarking on an UK and international tour.

Marianne Elliott will direct Simon Stephen’s new play Harper Regan in April, with Lesley Sharp in the title role, and will return in November with a production of Mrs Affleck by Samuel Adamson, from Ibsen’s Little Eyolf.

James Macdonald’s production of The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other is to be presented at the Lyttelton, as is The Year of Magical Thinking, based on Joan Didion’s memoirs, directed by David Hare and starring Vanessa Redgrave.

Michael Blakemore is to direct Michael Frayn’s new play Afterlife, Simon Russell Beale will lead the cast of Pinter’s A Slight Ache, and in September a new work co-directed and performed by Akram Khan and Juliette Binoche will open.

Meanwhile, plans for 2009 include David Hare’s new work Gethsemane, directed by Howard Davies, and Fiona Shaw in the title role of Brecht’s Mother Courage, directed by Deborah Warner.

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