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James McAvoy leads The Ruling Class

First Published 24 October 2014, Last Updated 24 October 2014

James McAvoy will return to the stage to star in the first revival of Olivier Award winner Peter Barnes’ satire The Ruling Class since its West End premiere in 1969.

The production will play as part of Jamie Lloyd’s second Trafalgar Transformed season and follow current hit comedy East Is East from 16 January to 11 April.

Directed by Lloyd, who previously directed the BAFTA-winning, Golden Globe nominated star in Macbeth, which launched the first Trafalgar Transformed season, McAvoy will lead the cast as Jack in Barnes’ razor-sharp comedy exposing the foibles of the English nobility.

Described as “a possible paranoid schizophrenic with a Messiah complex”, McAvoy’s colourful character inherits the title of the 14th Earl of Gurney after his father passes away in a bizarre accident. Singularly unsuited to a life in the upper echelons of elite society, Jack finds himself at the centre of a ruthless power struggle as his scheming family strives to uphold their reputation.

Speaking about his forthcoming role, X-Men star McAvoy commented: “I had an incredible time in Trafalgar Transformed’s Macbeth and couldn’t wait to find something else to work on with Jamie Lloyd.

“Jamie, his producing partners and their team are committed to making theatre that is accessible to all. I love being a part of that and it has been great to see them transform the demographic of their West End audience, not least with the inspiring £15 Mondays initiative. I can’t wait to play this challenging role in Barnes’ forgotten masterpiece. This play combines all the things that Jamie’s seasons are about, and for me what theatre is when it’s at its best: it is wild, funny, shocking, subversive and brutal, and, most importantly, entertaining.”

The actor, who boasts further stage credits including Three Days Of Rain in the West End and Privates On Parade at the Donmar Warehouse, will be best known to many for his numerous screen appearances. On television McAvoy became a familiar face following acclaimed roles in series including White Teeth, State Of Play and Shameless. His extensive film credits include The Last King Of Scotland, Atonement, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and, most recently, Filth.

Lloyd described himself as “honoured” to be directing the revival, commenting: “With the news that James McAvoy could join us again, I felt that this vivid production of Barnes’ explosively funny play should conclude the second Trafalgar Transformed season. James kick-started our ambitious venture with his incendiary Macbeth, so it feels as if everything has come full circle. I am delighted to introduce the work of Peter Barnes to our young and diverse audience at Trafalgar.”

The season’s current revival of Ayub Khan Din’s East Is East starring Jane Horrocks continues its successful run at the Trafalgar Studios 1 until 3 January.

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