Marber, Patrick 1964-
Marber, Patrick 1964-
Born September 19, 1964, in London, England; married Debra Gillett (an actress), 2002; children: three sons. Education: Wadham College, University of Oxford.
Home—London, England. Agent—Judy Daish Associates, 2 St. Charles Pl., London W10 6EG, England.
Playwright, writer, director, and actor. Performed as part of a slapstick duo; did stand-up comedy in London, late 1980s; became a writer for the British radio show On the Hour, and then the television series The Day Today, early 1990s; performer for television on Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, 1994-95. Director of plays for London and British stage, including 1953 (Almeida); Blue Remembered Hills (Royal National Theatre, Lyttleton); The Old Neighbourhood (Royal Court); and The Caretaker (Comedy Theatre). Also actor in plays, including Speed the Plow, West End, London, 2000.
British Comedy Award for Best Radio Series, and Sony Radio Award for Best Comedy, both 1993, both for Knowing Me, Knowing You; British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for best comedy program, 1994, for Paul and Pauline Calf's Video Diaries; British Comedy Award for Best New TV Series, and British Academy of Film and Television Arts award, both 1994, both for Knowing Me, Knowing You; Evening Standard award for best comedy, and Writer's Guild award for best West End play, both 1995, both for Dealer's Choice; Evening Standard award for best comedy, Critics Circle award for best play, and Laurence Olivier award for best play, all 1997, all for Closer; New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for best foreign play, 1999, for Closer; nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, 2005, for Closer.
Dealer's Choice (play; also director; first produced in London, England, 1995), Dramatist Play Service (New York, NY), 1998.
Closer (play; also director; first produced in London, England, 1997), Methuen (London, England), 1997, Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 2000.
After Miss Julie (television adaptation of play by August Strindberg), Methuen (London, England), 1998.
Howard Katz (play; also director; first produced in London, England, 2001), Faber and Faber (London, England), 2001.
Plays One (collection of works), Faber (London, England), 2003.
The Musicians: A Play, revised edition, Samuel French (New York, NY), 2005.
Don Juan in Soho: After Molière, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2007.
Closer (film adaptation of play; see above), Columbia Pictures, 2004.
Asylum (film; adapted from book by Patrick McGrath), Paramount Classics, 2005.
Notes on a Scandal (adapted from book by Zoe Heller), Fox Searchlight, 2006.
(Coauthor) The Tourist, 20th Century-Fox, 2007.
Contributor of scripts to radio and television programs in England, including Rory Bremner, 1989; Saturday Zoo, 1993; Paul Calf's Video Diary, 1993; The DayToday, 1994-2004; Steve Coogan: Live 'n' Lewd, 1994; Pauline Calf's Wedding Video, 1994; Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, 1994-95; Performance, 1995; Coogan's Run, 1995; Old Street, 2004.
Patrick Marber's early career was in British radio and television, where he worked on such popular shows as On the Hour and Knowing Me, Knowing You. In the mid-1990s he became identified with a new breed of playwrights who, according to Mimi Kramer writing in Time, were "widely compared to the angry-young-man generation of British playwrights that emerged in the years just after World War II." In addition to Marber, prominent contributors to this theatrical renaissance included Martin McDonagh and Mark Ravenhill. Kramer said that the three share not only their youth but also "a propensity for bleak subject matter and an ability to write beautifully about it." Marber and his colleagues also avoid an overt political agenda—a characteristic that marked the plays of earlier modern British writers such as John Osborne. According to Kramer: "The current renaissance follows a barren period in British playwriting" precipitated by the uncertainty of the 1980s under the conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Dealer's Choice, Marber's first play, deals with relationships among several men, and particularly with a father-son relationship. It revolves around a weekly poker game, which provides the setting in which the men deal with their various issues. Stephen, who runs the game, has a complex relationship with his son, Carl, which is dealt with obliquely in the arcane, technical vocabulary that accompanies the card game. The players discuss various issues but hide their real feelings behind the game and its intricacies. Robert L. King in the North American Review noted that in the play, characters "are trapped by delusions of power, money and masculinity. Like the play itself, they use bantering humor, but as cover for their basic failings." Eric Grode wrote in Back Stage that this play is "predictable but engrossing" as it exhibits "the constant emotional power struggle" between Stephen and Carl. "Dealer's Choice," Grode noted, "does an uncommonly good job of taking an overworked premise and breathing new life into it." In Variety, Greg Evans asserted that "Marber might have no new cards up his sleeve, but he plays his hand with the skill of a Vegas pro" and has created "an ace production."
Marber's next production, Closer, was generally hailed by critics as an incisive, urbane look at sexual politics. "Closer mines the impossibility of intimacy in modern heterosexual relationships," wrote Lyn Gardner in the Guardian. In the play, four characters—Alice, a stripper; Dan, a would-be novelist; Larry, a dermatologist; and Anna, a photographer—move in and out of each others' lives, changing partners often to satisfy their current sexual needs. "Closer," wrote Stefan Kanfer in the New Leader, "is a play of this decade, à la mode in every respect, from the unloving pursuit of gratification to the later professions of irony and candor." The viewers, Kanfer stated, "are never given a chance to sit back. Whenever matters seem resolved, [Marber] rings in a new intrigue, or a variation of an old one." In Entertainment Weekly, Jess Cagle called the play "a funny, intriguing, brutal dissection of human relationships." Los Angeles Times contributor Michael Phillips liked the "pith and zing" of the play and called it "extremely well-made. Yet epigrammatic precision in this case counts for only so much." In a Newsweek review, Jack Kroll remarked on the sexual frankness of the play, noting that it is "explicit with a vengeance because its 34-year-old author senses a state of emergency in human emotional and sexual relations." Kroll went on to note: "The result is a powerful, darkly funny play about the cosmic collision between the sun of love and the comet of desire."
Critics were not so complimentary toward Howard Katz, Marber's play about a theatrical agent in a mid-life crisis who tries to salvage his collapsing world. In this play, Katz sits on a park bench contemplating suicide. Through flashbacks, the audience sees such life-changing episodes as his father's admission of infidelity, his mother's encroaching senility, and his wife's departure. Stephen Brown in the Times Literary Supplement doubted that Howard Katz could match the quality of Marber's earlier plays. Howard Katz, he wrote, is "a picaresque mess" in which Marber is "hobbled by a kind of structural, and peculiarly male, narcissism." In Variety, Matt Wolf commented that in this play, "the problem lies in sustaining interest in someone's fall when we have had next to no sense of his rise" and called the character of Katz "a not terribly original kvetch." Spectator's Sheridan Morley stated that Howard Katz is "the Peer Gynt of Paddington, the King Lear of Kilburn," who is "not a big enough man to make his self-absorption anything more than mildly irritating." James Inverne, however, wrote in Time International that "Howard Katz points to potential beginning to be realized," and commented of Marber: "Nobody could write with such unremitting intensity about the inad- equacy of normal life and not feel it." Inverne wrote that "Howard Katz is one of the most fascinating, relevant and thoughtful plays to hit London in recent years."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 34, Gale (Farmington Hills, MI), 2001.
Newsmakers, Issue 4, Gale (Farmington Hills, MI), 2007.
Back Stage, May 2, 1997, Eric Grode, review of Dealer's Choice, p. 60.
Entertainment Weekly, April 9, 1999, Jess Cagle, review of Closer, p. 66.
Guardian (London, England), October 8, 2001, Lyn Gardner, "Love, Sex, and Savagery in Birmingham Private Lives/Closer," p. 16.
Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2000, Michael Phillips, "As They Tussle, These Lovers Let Words Fly," p. F1.
New Leader, April 19, 1999, Stefan Kanfer, "Taxing Imports," review of Closer, p. 21.
New Republic, June 28, 1999, Robert Brustein, review of Closer and Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth, p. 36.
Newsweek, April 5, 1999, Jack Kroll, "Porn o' Plenty: XXX Fare Is Here," p. 70.
North American Review, March-April, 1997, Robert L. King, review of Dealer's Choice, pp. 48-52.
Spectator, June 23, 2001, Sheridan Morley, review of Howard Katz, p. 48.
Telegraph (London, England), October 3, 2007, Dominic Cavendish, "Patrick Marber: ‘I Didn't Have a Hip New Play in Me.’"
Time, August 4, 1997, Mimi Kramer, "Three for the Show," pp. 71-72.
Time International, June 25, 2001, James Inverne, "Closer to the Bone: Patrick Marber's New Play, Howard Katz, Confirms His Status as Britain's Hottest Young Playwright," p. 64.
Times Literary Supplement, June 22, 2001, Stephen Brown, "No Hidden Depths," p. 20.
Variety, April 14, 1997, Greg Evans, review of Dealer's Choice, p. 100; June 25, 2001, Matt Wolf, review of Howard Katz, p. 29.
Contemporarywriters.com,http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (December 15, 2007), profile of author.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 15, 2007), information on author's film work.