A Letter of Resignation

Previewed 14 October 1997, Opened 16 October 1997, Closed 11 April 1998 at the Comedy Theatre (Now Harold Pinter Theatre)
Transferred 20 April 1998, Closed 10 October 1998 at the Savoy Theatre

Hugh Whitemore's new play A Letter of Resignation in London starring Edward Fox

The War Minister had an affair with a call girl, the call girl had an affiar with a Russian spy, the Russian spy was set up by MI5, but nobody told the Prime Minister... 1963 was an amazing year. President Kennedy's assassination. The Great Train Robbery. Beatlemania. The Profumo Affair.

Life was changing. Britain was becoming a different place. To many people, Harold Macmillian, the Prime Minister, seemed outdated and irrelevant - an Edwardian grandee lingering uncomfortably in the world of E-type Jaguars, Carnaby Street and TV's That Was The Week That Was.

But few were aware that his life was scarred by domestic unhappiness and sexual betrayal. A Letter Of Resignation explores the events that lay hidden behind the headlines and examines a complex web of personal and political morality. "Never explain, never apologise, never repent the mistake" - Not a bad motto for a life in politics.

This play is set in the library of a castle in Scotland during an evening in the summer of 1963. Please note that this play is a work of ficton. Harold Macmillan was told of Mr Profumo's resignation by telephone and not by emissaries from London. Oliver Widdowes, Ian Richie and Mrs Brennan are invented characters. Nevertheless the main events described and discussed in this play actually happened and are fully documented.

The cast features Edward Fox as 'Harold Macmillan' and Polly Adams as 'Lady Dorothy Macmillan' with Patrick Ryecart as 'Oliver Widdowes', Andrew Woodall as 'Ian Richie' and Aileen O'Gorman as 'Mrs Brennan'. Directed by Christopher Morahan with sets by Eileen Diss, costumes by Tom Rands, lighting by Mich Hughes and sound by Tom Lishman. The original cast at the Comedy Theatre featured Edward Fox as 'Harold Macmillan' and Clare Higgins as 'Lady Dorothy Macmillan' with Julian Wadham as 'Oliver Widdowes', John Warnaby as 'Ian Richie' and Doreen Andrew and 'Mrs Brennan'.

"Hugh Whitemore's A Letter of Resignation is an intriguing modern history play, but what lifts it into the 'must see' bracket is a stunning and most moving performance from Edward Fox as the melancholy Harold Macmillan. You can almost feel his anguish when, in flashback, the wife to whom he is devoted tells him of her affair with Bob Boothby, later discovered to be bisexual and morally corrupt. Nothing can ever be the same again for the penultimate gentleman Tory PM. Christopher Morahan's sympathetic production and Clare Higgins' portrayal of the down-to-earth but treacherous Dorothy are to be admired, but it is Fox's nobility as he brings Supermac back to life that touches the heart. And leads one to speculate that the members of the audience have never had it so good." The News of the World

"Hugh Whitemore has written an old-fashioned, well-researched enjoyable play. It strikes many a pertinent chord about private lives and political security. Suddenly it strikes a little more than that, when Clare Higgins's frumpish, bustling Dorothy Macmillan is rejuvenated and we are flashed back to 1929. Edward Fox remains the same stilted, vaguely benevolent old buffer whose grey moustache has reached some sort of tacit agreement with his eyebrows. Young Dorothy spills the beans about her affair with Bob Boothby and her pregnancy. The second act begins with an excellent scene, superbly acted, of interrogation and sadness, in which Fox's glacier stint melts in a dialogue of earth-shattering revelations... Whitemore writes Fox a final monologue of elegiac regret in which halcyon Oxford days fade into a lament for the absence of mystery, or of God, in our lives. Fox has rarely been so good, or so touching" The Daily Mail

"With his dreary adaptation of A Dance to the Music of Time running on television, Hugh Whitemore has now come up with this somnolent West End drama which rakes over the ashes of the Profumo story yet again. It seems typical of this arthritically old-fashioned 'well-made' play that it isn't even enlivened by attractive actresses impersonating Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies... [Edward Fox] is in his element playing Harold Macmillan. Both actor and subject seem like preposterous but endearing relics from another age. Fox's voice is a tremulous hoot, his eyes hooded, the deep lines on his face all point towards the floor in an expression of inconsolable gloom. When he says 'cross' it rhymes with 'gorse', while 'golf', naturally, rhymes with 'cough'. I could cheerfully watch Fox doing this kind of stuff all day, which is just as well because there's little else worth watching. For a sex'n'spy story, gripping drama is in ludicrously short supply... The show is attractively designed by Eileen Diss and blandly directed by Christopher Morahan. It's the kind of worthy, uninspired trudge of a drama that ought to have gone out of fashion in about, oh, 1963." The Daily Telegraph

A Letter of Resignation in London at the Comedy Theatre (Now Harold Pinter Theatre) previewed from 14 October 1997, opened on 16 October 1997 and closed on 11 April 1998, transferred to the Savoy Theatre on 20 April 1998 and closed on 10 October 1998