Dealer’s Chalce

Former stand-up Patrick Marber’s has been dealt a lucky hand: a hit at the Royal National Theatre. As Dealer is Choice comes to the Fringe. Paul Welsh places an ante.

Patrick Marber must be laughing. His first play. Dealer iv Choice. a combination of poker. caustic humour and tough-talking men which he also

directed for the Royal National Theatre

- has become a sensation. Currently on an international tour. Dealers Choice

looks destined to be a major hit at this

year's Festival.

With four years of Fringe stand up behind him. Marber is a veteran of the British comedy boorrr of the 80s. Television credits for The Day 'liu/ay and Knorring Me Knorring You With Alan Partridge conlirm his comic pedigree. but his success is deceptive.

‘I alwa) s wanted to write for theatre.’ Marber says. ‘Personally. it's fulfilling I never wanted to be a stand up that

‘was' just bad luck. I respect the people

who still perform. but just found the whole thing nerve-wracking.‘

Still. his first-hand experience of the stage is now paying dividends. Since

Dealer’s Choice: Patrick Marber‘s ace in the hole

opening in I995. Dealer is Choice has picked up weighty awards. including one from the Writers' Guild for Best West End Play. ()bviously delighted and modestly surprised. Marber pins this success on cracking good jokes during a serious plunge into the oft- grisly world of men and their rituals. ‘I think the play works because it‘s connected to something totally real. People enjoy life as lived on stage and the themes are universal. People are

intrigued by poker sub-culture anyway.

but through this. I look at father/son relationships and straight male friendships in general.’

l)ofl'rng his new cap and returning to Edinburgh. Marber's timing is impeccable. ‘l’eople used to say how difficult it was to get an audience for

theatre in Edinburgh.’ he argues. ‘but things are swinging back now. Comedy is concentrated into three big venues. and the rest is being left for theatre. Having the National on the Fringe may sound daft enough. but we have deliberately picked an even more Fringey venue [the sticky-carpeted Fringe (‘lub itself] to keep our prices down.‘

()n the tenuous Festival gossip front. top card-slrufller Paul Newman (remember 'I‘he Sting?) saw Dealer‘s Choice in London. The God of Cool liked what he saw . . . and that's enouin for rrre.

I Dealer’s Choice (Fringe) Royal National Theatre. Fringe Club (Venue 2) 226 5BR. 7pm. £8.50 (£7.50)


Jerzy Stuhr is one of Poland’s top directors, noted for his unconventional interpretation of classic texts. Having cut his teeth working in films with the late Krzysztof Kieslowski he went on to direct Krakow’s Teatr Ludowy, winning praise for his populist approach to the theatre.

‘It is firstly a tragedy of young love,’ says Stuhr of his production, ‘a story of fantastic, passionate love destroyed by politics and ambition. Both Macbeth and his wile are very young. The second important'element

is the collision between the irrational world of nature, which is very strong in this play, and the real world. I’ve always been fascinated by Shakespeare’s ghosts.’

Working with a cast of fifteen, Stuhr has pared the play down to an hour and a half. ‘I had the idea of diminishing the space in which the actions take place. My approach has been to emphasise the psychological, so we are not going for a macro effect. What is vital for me is to create intensity, with the actors one metre away from the public. We are not so much presenting for the public as presenting in the presence of the public - it’s an important distinction.’ (Marc Lambert)

Macbeth (Fringe) Teafr ludorvy, Moray House Studios (Venue 169) 556 0102, 12 -26 Aug, 6.30pm, £7 (£6).

quick hits

I Orlando Miranda Richardson appears solo in the English language premiere of Virginia Woolf's colourful. time and gender-twisting r'hapsody. as adapted by celebrated American director/ designer Robert Wilson. See feature.

()r/anilo (Inter/unional Festival) Royal Lyceum Theatre. 225 5756. /3—2/ Aug (not l8). 7.30pm. £6420.

I The Tim Vine Shambles Anriable winner of last year‘s Perrier Best Newcomer Award. Vine returns with his silly. cheesy atrd thoroughly enjoyable stream of fun.

The Tin: Vine Shambles (Fringe) Tint Vine. l’leasance (Venue 33) /()—.i/ Aug (not /2. 29). 7.40pm. {8/[7 ((7/17)). prei'ieu' Fri 9 Aug. £4.50.

I Elsinore Montreal's maverick maestro Robert Lepage presents the British premiere of his extraordinary. high-tech. one-man Hant/et. Insane“? Yes. but isn't everything he does'.’ See Fronllines.

lilsinore (International Festival) lir/inlnngh International Conference Centre. 225 5756. /6—28 Aug (not [9. 25). 7.30pm. 24 Aug. 2.30pm. [5-H 4.

I Judith Howard Barker's Wrestling School company present his conrplex. poetic drama. set during a Biblical war and briefly seen at the Traverse last year.

Judith (Fringe) 'I'lte Wrestling School. 'I'rarers'e ’I'heatre ( Venue I5) 228 I404. /()—/.\' Aug (ttot '. /l//2). times vary. [/0 ([6).

I The Kosh Present Endangered Species - The Revue Sian Williams and company present a. wildly entertaining combo of dance. cabaret. theatre and music guaranteed to put a spark in your evening.

Endangered Species The Review (Fringe) The K oslt. (it/(lei! Balloon (Venue 38) 9—3/ Aug (no! 25). 7 .30/nn. £7.50 ([6. 50).

The List 9- l 5 Aug I990 41