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Previewed 15 February 2006, Opened 1 March 2006, Closed 24 June 2006 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London
Christopher Hampton's play Embers in London, adapted from the novel by Sandor Marai, starring Jeremy Irons and directed by Michael Blakemore.
Exploring themes of love, friendship and betrayal, Embers is set in war torn Europe in 1940, in a Hungarian castle, where a retired general Henrik awaits the arrival of Konrad, a friend he has not seen for several decades - ever since Konrad had abruptly deserted a hunting party he was on with his lifelong friend Henrik and fled from Vienna leaving his lifelong friend Henrik and and wife. The passing of so many years since that eventful day has not dulled Henrik's memory nor answered the questions that still haunt him.
The cast for Embers stars Jeremy Irons as 'Henrik' with Patrick Malahide as 'Konrad' and Jean Boht as 'Nini'. Based on the novel by Sandor Marai, translated by Carol Brown Janeway. Directed by Michael Blakemore with sets by Peter J Davison, costumes by Sue Willmington, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by John Leonard.
"Christopher Hampton's taut, tense play is closely based on a novel by Sandor Marai... Irons gives the best and most subtle stage performance of his career: magnificently austere, full of gracious, imperious dignity and fiercely controlled emotion. A large part of the play is a series of speeches by him, and Irons gives a virtuoso demonstration of a great actor's art, entirely unostentatious but beautifully and ruthlessly eloquent... Michael Blakemore's steely but delicate and lucid production has a sense of tragedy both monumental and fragile." The Sunday Times
"'Facts are only part of the truth,' says Henrik (Jeremy Irons) in Embers... Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Hungarian Sandor Marai's novel does not deal in fact, but in feeling. In the castle where Henrik has lived in self-imposed exile, he and Konrad meet for the first time since that fateful day. Irons talks and talks; Patrick Malahide's Konrad sits, puffing on his cigar, saying almost nothing. While being quite astonishingly slow, there is something oddly compelling about Henrik's desire to understand his wife and his friend. Embers fails to blaze into real drama, but it quietly illuminates the dark mystery of male friendship." The Mail on Sunday
"The expectation that any good novel (and this is clearly a terrific one) can translate to the stage, and the expectation of an audience that, if they hang on, a moral and a message will emerge, is not rewarded. I left the theatre exhausted by the play's monotony but with a burning ambition to read Marai's book about friendship, betrayal and, coincidentally, expectation." The Sunday Telegraph
"Why Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons chose this Christopher Hampton adaptation of a Hungarian novel to return to the stage after 18 years, I simply can't imagine. Set in a remote Hungarian castle in 1940, the play consists of a retired army general talking, almost non-stop, with a boyhood friend who at one time had a fling with the old soldier's wife. Even great director Michael Blakemore can't poke this rambling near monologue's dying embers into a theatrical blaze." The Sun
Apart from appearing last year as 'King Arthur' in Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl and in Sondheim's A Little Night Music in New York in 2003, Jeremy Irons has, for the past 17 years, been working in film and television. He last worked with Christopher Hampton in Tales From Hollywood for the BBC and was produced by Eric Abraham in the film of Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World. Jeremy was last seen in London as 'Richard II' and in Aphra Behn's The Rover with The Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988. He won the 1984 Tony Award for 'Best Actor' for his performance in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing on Broadway and an Oscar and Golden Globe Award for the film Reversal of Fortune. On television Irons was nominated for an Emmy, BAFTA abd Golden Globe Award for his role in Brideshead Revisited.
Patrick Malahide has enjoyed an extensive career in theatre, film and television. He first worked in the theatre as a stage manager, and then as a director, at the Byre Theatre, Saint Andrews. Patrick won an award for 'Best Solo Performance' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for his performance in Judgement and was nominated by BAFTA as 'Best Actor' for his performance in The Singing Detective.
Jean Boht is perhaps best known for her role as 'Nellie Boswell' in the hugely successful BBC television series Bread - watched by a peak of 26 million viewers-a-week) that won her the award for Top TV Comedy Actress, and the programme the Variety Artistes Best Comedy. Jean has also appeared in numerous other television series, but most importantly The Boys From the Blackstuff, which was nominated as 'Top Drama' in the Best 100 TV Programmes Ever, plus many guest appearances in chat shows. Theatre has always been Jean's first passion and she began her career as a £1-a-week student at the Liverpool PLayhouse and went on to join the Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Companies - within two years she returned to Liverpool as a leading lady along with Anthony Hopkins, Lynda La Plante and Patrick Stewart. Her London and West End production go back to 1964, appearing in no less than twenty different theatres.
Embers in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 15 February 2006, opened on 1 March 2006 and on closed 24 June 2006.