Marchant, Tony 1959-
MARCHANT, Tony 1959-
Born July 11, 1959, in London, England. Education: Attended St. Joseph Academy School.
Agent—Lemon, Unna, and Durbridge, 24 Pottery Lane, Holland Park, London W11 4LZ, England.
Playwright. Also author of screenplays and teleplays.
Edinburgh Festival Award, 1982; London Critic's Circle Theatre Award, 1982.
Remember Me?, produced in London, England, 1980.
Thick as Thieves (includes London Calling and Dealt With; produced in London, England, 1981), Methuen (London, England), 1982.
Stiff, produced in London, England, 1982.
Raspberry (produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, then London, England, 1982), included in Welcome Home, Raspberry, The Lucky Ones: Three Plays, 1983.
The Lucky Ones (produced in London, England, 1982), included in Welcome Home, Raspberry, The Lucky Ones: Three Plays, 1983.
Welcome Home (produced in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, then London, England, 1983), included in Welcome Home, Raspberry, The Lucky Ones: Three Plays, 1983.
Welcome Home, Raspberry, The Lucky Ones: Three Plays, Methuen (London, England), 1983.
Lazydays Ltd., produced in London, England, 1984.
The Attractions (produced in London, England, 1987), Amber Lane (Oxford, England), 1988.
Speculators, (produced in London, England, 1987), Amber Lane (Oxford, England), 1988.
NeverNever, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Channel 4 (England), 2001.
Swallow, BBC Channel 4, 2001.
Crime and Punishment (adapted from the novel), BBC-2, 2001.
Also author of other television plays and scripts, including Raspberry, 1984; Reservations, 1985; The Moneymen, 1987); This Year's Model, 1988; The Money Man, 1988; Death of a Son, 1989; The Attractions, 1989; Take Me Home, 1989; Goodbye Cruel World, 1992; Holding On, 1997; Great Expectations, 1999; Kid in the Corner, 1999; Bad Blood, 1999; Crime and Punishment, 2002; and "The Knight's Tale," The Canterbury Tales, 2003.
Author of screenplays Different for Girls, 1996, and Passer By, 2004.
As a playwright and author of screenplays, Tony Marchant is known for his mastery of characterization and for depicting "people attempting to confound the expectation of their environment," as Marchant noted in Contemporary Dramatists. Marchant went on to note, "They are mostly excluded from the mainstream of society, but suffer from its judgement. They all question these judgements and ultimately defy them. Theirs is a plea for dignity."
In his two-part play Thick as Thieves, for example, Marchant looks at unemployed London teenagers. In London Calling, the first in the sequence, the audience sees a group of wandering teenagers coming precariously close to condoning unthinking violence. But some have the wherewithal to intellectually ruminate on their predicament and potentially wasted lives. The second play, Dealt With, features one of the teenagers, Paul, who harasses a personnel officer who rejected him for a job. Eventually, Paul ends up on the run from a security guard. "Here the focus is split," commented a Contemporary Dramatists contributor. "On the one hand there is a simple clash between the deprived and the prosperous and on the other a contrast between the dreams with which Paul invests this confrontation and the inadequacy of the personnel officer as a target for his rage."
Welcome Home is Marchant's play about the Falkland Islands War, its aftermath, and how the army impacts young men's lives. Some disenfranchised men find an alternative to their lives in the army, with its comradeship and discipline. When one of their comrades dies, they mount an official funeral. But one of them makes a mistake in the discipline of the funeral procession and is savagely punished by a corporal. In Raspberry, Marchant shows two nurses on a gynecological ward, one working in the abortion clinic and the other for an infertility operation. Although their relationship is initially confrontational, they eventually form a close relationship that comforts them while they work in a grim and insensitive system.
Marchant has also written numerous screenplays and teleplays. His 2000 teleplay NeverNever, broadcast as a three-hour drama on British television, tells the story of John Parlour, who works for a loan agency. Beaten up by the brother of a single mother, Jo Weller, who cannot repay her loan, the battered John then loses his job and starts a credit union that becomes hugely successful. When he discovers that Jo, who is now his lover, was behind his beating, he goes on a drunken binge but finally forgives her. Eventually, however, John becomes worse than he was as a private loan officer when he violently beats one of the credit union clients. New Statesman contributor Andrew Billen said, "Intellectually, I was left trying to place Marchant." But he also noted that "With NeverNever, Marchant—sometimes an exploitative writer, but not here—comes into maturity."
In Swallow, another teleplay, Marchant depicts a slick public relations man who ends up battling his pharmaceutical-company client when the client's addictive antidepressant drugs lead to a woman's suicide. At the same time, he is attempting to cope with his sister's slow death from cancer, and he bullies the woman into chemotherapy. Kid in the Corner, a television series, focuses on Danny, a boy who suffers from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. His three-part teleplay Goodbye Cruel World features a housewife and mother who comes down with an incurable neuromuscular disease. As she declines and becomes bedridden, the audience sees the impact of her sickness and impending death on her husband and son. British Medical Journal contributor Joan M. Round noted that around these characters "the author wove several subplots, all of which posed questions of morality and ethics, particularly in the fields of charity fund raising and medical research." The author went on to note that, "Apart from the central theme of love and grief, this was basically a play about the inability of a working class family to manipulate the system, to comprehend establishment attitudes to fund raising, or in any way to understand the ups and downs of medical research as scientists give up one avenue of investigation to pursue a new idea."
Marchant's film screenplays include Different for Girls and Passer By. In Different for Girls, Marchant tells the story of two friends, Paul and Karl. When they were young, Paul always tried to protect the effeminate Karl. When they meet again years later as adults, Karl has undergone a sex-change operation and is now named Kim. As the two develop an increasingly sexual relationship, they undergo a number of harrowing experiences, including a violent encounter with the patrons of a punk bar and a homophobic cop. Bob Satuloff, writing in the Advocate, noted, "The couple's transition from mismatched misfits to a postmodern Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr may strain credulity, and a subplot involving Kim's sister … is a wash. But these draw-backs don't dull Different for Girls' double edge. Although the lovers are identified as heterosexual, it's two men up there on the screen kissing, having sex, and falling in love."
Marchant's screenplay for Passer By was described by Billen in the New Statesman as asking the question of whether or not men remain good once they have "passed by" an opportunity to right a wrong or help someone. According to Billen, the movie asks, "If you are not the good Samaritan, does that make you bad?" In the scenario created by Marchant, a young man fails to stay with a woman being harassed by a thug on a train. When he later finds out that she was the victim of a sexual assault, he steps forward to become a witness for the prosecution but is cleverly manipulated by a defense attorney, who makes him question his own masculinity. The attackers are eventually found not guilty, and the man finds himself accosted on all sides by questions about his manhood while his own son becomes increasing competitive, macho, and violent. Billen noted that "Marchant clearly feels revulsion for the older prototype of masculinity" and reveals this belief primarily in the character of the son.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Dramatists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Advocate, September 16, 1997, Bob Satuloff, review of Different for Girls, p. 69.
British Medical Journal, January 25, 1992, Joan M. Round, review of Goodbye Cruel World, p. 261.
New Statesman, December 13, 1999, Andrew Billen, review of Kid in the Corner, p. 49; November 13, 2000, Andrew Billen, review of NeverNever, p. 48; February 19, 2002, Andrew Billen, review of Crime and Punishment, p. 4574; April 5, 2004, Andrew Billen, review of Passer By, p. 46.
Televisual, November, 2000, "Tony Marchant"; August, 2001, "BBC New Look for Dostoevsky."
Angelfire,com,http://www.angelfire.com/ (September 28, 2004), Rob Gonsalves, review of Different for Girls.
British Film Institute Web site,http://www.bfi.org.uk/ (September 28, 2004), "Marchant and Morrissey on the Genesis of Passer By."
Doollee.com,http://www.doollee.com/ (September 28, 2004), "Tony Marchant."*