The programme from the Group Theatre’s production of Auden’s verse drama The Dance of Death (1933) contains a synopsis written by Auden himself. In retrospect it seems pretty clear that the “satire on modern life” included satire on the earnest Marxists who populated the Group Theatre productions. After all, one passage near the end includes these lines, sung to the tune of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March:
Oh, Mr Marx you’ve gathered
All the material facts;
You know the economic
Reasons for our acts.
However, at the time this seems not to have been noted as irony.
(Image courtesy of the exceptionally well-prepared Wikipedia page on Auden.)