Crimp, Martin (Andrew) 1956-
CRIMP, Martin (Andrew) 1956-
Born February 14, 1956, in Dartford, England. Education: Cambridge University, graduated 1978.
Agent—Judy Daish Associates, 2 St. Charles Place, London W10 6E9, England.
Playwright. Royal Court Theatre, London, England, writer-in-residence, 1997-98.
John Whiting Award, 1993, for The Treatment.
PLAYS, EXCEPT WHERE INDICATED
(With Howard Curtis) Love Games (adaptation of work by Jerzy Przedziecki), produced in London, England, 1982.
Living Remains, produced in London, England, 1982.
Four Attempted Acts, produced in London, England, 1984.
A Variety of Death-defying Acts, produced in London, England, 1985.
Three Attempted Acts (radio play; produced in 1985), published in Best Radio Plays of 1985, edited by Richard Imison, Methuen (London, England), 1986.
Definitely the Bahamas, produced in London, England, 1987.
A Kind of Arden, produced in London, England, 1987.
Spanish Girls, produced in London, England, 1987.
Dealing with Clair (produced in London, England, 1988), Nick Hern (London, England), 1988.
Play with Repeats (produced in London, England, 1989), Nick Hern (London, England), 1990.
No One Sees the Video (produced in London, England, 1990), published in Getting Attention: Two Plays and a Fiction, 1991.
Getting Attention (produced in Leeds, England, 1991), published in Getting Attention: Two Plays and a Fiction, 1991.
Getting Attention: Two Plays and a Fiction (contains No One Sees the Video), Nick Hern (London, England), 1991.
The Treatment (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1993), Nick Hern (London, England), 1993.
The Misanthrope (adaptation of work by Molière; produced in London, England, 1996), Faber and Faber (Boston, MA), 1996.
Attempts on Her Life (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1997), Faber and Faber (London, England), 1997.
Roberto Zucco (adaptation of work by Bernard-Marie Koltes; produced in London, England, 1997), Methuen (London, England), 1997.
The Chairs (adaptation of Eugène Ionesco's Chaises; produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 1997), Methuen (London, England), 1997.
The Triumph of Love (adaptation of work by Marivaux), produced in London, England, 1999.
The Maids (adaptation of work by Jean Genet), produced in London, England, 1999.
The Country (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 2000), Faber and Faber (London, England), 2000.
Plays (collection), Faber and Faber (London, England), 2000.
Face to the Wall (produced in London, England, at Royal Court Theatre, 2002), published with Fewer Emergencies, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2002.
Fewer Emergencies, published with Face to the Wall, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2002.
The False Servant (one act; adaptation of work by Marivaux), produced in London, England, 2004.
Trachiniae (adaptation of work by Sophocles), produced in London, England, 2004.
Women of Trachis (adaptation of work by Sophocles), produced in London, England, 2004.
Also author of the radio plays Six Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion, 1986; Definitely the Bahamas, 1987; and The Country, 1997. Author of the screenplay for the short film London South West, 1991.
British playwright Martin Crimp has written many original plays and adapted works by others, including Jerzy Przedziecki, Molière, Bernard-Marie Koltes, Eugène Ionesco, Marivaux, Jean Genet, Franz Lehar, and Sophocles. Among his original plays is Dealing with Clair, which features Mike and Liz, the parents of a new baby who are selling their suburban home in order to move up to something grander. After the pair engage in a bit of wheeling and dealing that involves a dissatisfied potential buyer, their real estate agent, Clair, meets an unhappy demise; her fate is patterned after the real-life disappearance of agent Suzy Lamplugh. Writing in the Guardian, Joe Penhall remarked that Crimp "nails the ugly Darwinism of parenthood and the greed of the 'haves,' who always want more, with deadpan wit."
In Play with Repeats, the protagonist is given the chance to relive two incidents in his life but bungles both badly. No One Sees the Video finds housewife Liz, recently abandoned by her husband, approached by a market researcher who wants to tape her opinions on frozen pizza and other consumer products; she agrees as an escape from her loneliness. "If it weren't so clever and funny, No One Sees the Video could induce something like despair," commented Kirsty Milne in New Statesman.
The Treatment was inspired by a visit to New York and is about the making of a film concerning spousal abuse. Anne is the victim; when Andrew and his wife, Jennifer, question Anne about her attacks, it becomes clear that they are facilitating her pain and confusion. Andrew hires Clifford to write Anne's story and also to witness his seduction of her. The film is finally made, but the play ends in violence when Anne is shot by Jennifer.
While the cast of Molière's The Misanthrope includes figures at the seventeenth-century court of Louis XIV, in Crimp's version the characters are drawn from among the literary and show-business elite of contemporary London. Spectator reviewer Sheridan Morley wrote that "Crimp's language is crisp, scatological and often blindingly funny. He is wickedly accurate on the London literary scene of sycophants and hangers-on." The only character to retain his name, Alceste, is a cult playwright who refuses to repress his opinions, particularly of two powerful reviewers, and whose girlfriend, Jennifer, is a film star. Guardian critic Lyn Gardner felt that "Crimp's writing is so lethal, and builds to such an ironic climax … that the connections between past and present are always made." Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss wrote that Crimp "has truly nailed and nurtured the cross-century connections." He "has found a way," said Weiss, "to be true to Molière via his bristling dialogue in deliciously rhymed and free verse. Yet he also is utterly hip—with perfectly on-target contemporary references that are far more than surface glitter." Actress Uma Thurman made her off-Broadway debut in a New York production of Crimp's The Misanthrope.
Attempts on Her Life consists of seventeen scenes about a woman whose name is Anne—or a variation of that name—who shape-shifts from one character to another; in one scene she is even represented as a car. Anne never actually appears, but she is described as a suicidal artist, a refugee, a romantic young woman. Gardner described the play as "a manifesto for the future of theatre, as well as a chillingly well observed consideration of the soullessness of modern human existence in a consumerist culture."
"Some of these scenes are funny—in particular a sharp skit on the jargon of art criticism," wrote Susannah Clapp in New Statesman. "Some of them draw with manipulative force on accounts of burning libraries, bombed runways, frantic women. Some offer their own pre-emptive explanation of what is taking place.… Crimp has not specified how many or what kind of actors are required, saying only that the company's composition should reflect that of the world beyond.… There are no stage directions, only an open-ended infrastructure." New York Times critic Bruce Weber felt that "what lingers from Attempts on Her Life after the lights come up is the chill feeling that the world is shattered like a broken glass orb in space, millions of pieces scattered and glinting, separate, cold, and unknown."
Crimp has given a contemporary flavor to Eugène Ionesco's 1952 play The Chairs, in which a couple married nearly seventy years sit amidst a set filled with chairs waiting for company to arrive. A doctor, Richard, and his wife, Corinne, are already estranged as The Country begins with his bringing home a woman he has found lying by the side of the road and who then becomes his mistress.
In The False Servant, an updated version of Marivaux's eighteenth-century play, Chevalier is a young woman who goes to a ball dressed as a man, where she befriends Lelio, who has been recommended to her as husband material. They continue on to a party, with Chevalier intending to uncover the true character of this man, who in fact calculates the value of possible relationships by the weight of the wealth that comes with them, and who is engaged to the Countess, whom he is exploiting. Chevalier carries out a mock seduction of the Countess so that her betrothal to Lelio will be ended. Michael Billington wrote in the Guardian that Chevalier "is driven by an androgynous narcissism that links her with the cross-dressing [Marlene] Dietrich and [Katharine] Hepburn heroines of twentieth-century cinema."
Other plays Crimp has adapted and carried forward into modern times include two by Sophocles, Women of Trachis and the seldom performed Trachiniae.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Back Stage, November 19, 1993, David Lefkowitz, review of The Treatment, p. 40; April 10, 1998, Chip Deffaa, review of The Chairs, p. 35; February 26, 1999, David Sheward, review of The Misanthrope, p. 58.
Chicago Sun-Times, November 19, 2003, Hedy Weiss, review of The Misanthrope, p. 62.
Guardian (Manchester, England), February 21, 2002, Lyn Gardner, review of The Misanthrope, p. 21; May 14, 2004, Michael Billington, review of Women of Trachis, p. 32; June 3, 2004, Michael Billington, review of The False Servant, p. 30; June 16, 2004, Joe Penhall, review of Dealing with Clair, p. 11; July 31, 2004, Lyn Gardner, review of Attempts on Her Life, p. 17.
New Republic, November 29, 1993, Robert Brustein, review of The Treatment, p. 29.
New Statesman, April 16, 1993, Kirsty Milne, "The New Elliptical," p. 31; March 21, 1997, Susannah Clapp, review of Attempts on Her Life, p. 48.
New York Amsterdam News, November 20, 1993, Alice Richardson, review of The Treatment, p. 27.
New York Times, April 30, 2002, Bruce Weber, review of Attempts on Her Life, section E, p. 5; July 8, 2004, Ben Brantley, review of Trachiniae, section E, p. 3.
Opera News, May, 2000, John W. Freeman, review of The Merry Widow, p. 84.
Spectator, February 24, 1996, Sheridan Morley, review of The Misanthrope, p. 40; June 26, 2004, Rachel Halliburton, review of The False Servant, p. 47.
Time, March 8, 1999, Richard Zoglin, review of The Misanthrope, p. 82.
Variety, December 8, 1997, Matt Wolf, review of The Chairs, p. 119; February 22, 1999, Charles Isherwood, review of The Misanthrope, p. 159; May 22, 2000, Matt Wolf, review of The Country, p. 39; August 11, 2003, Joel Hirschhorn, review of The Country, p. 30; June 21, 2004, Matt Wolf, review of The False Servant, p. 47.
Village Voice, March 2, 1999, Michael Feingold, review of The Misanthrope, p. 161.*