The dramatist, Marcy Kahan, grew up in Montreal and is
currently resident in London, England. Marcy is half-Canadian and
half-American. She has a degree in English from Somerville College,
Oxford, and trained in theatre in Paris with the LeCoq teachers,
Philippe Gaulier and Monika Pagneux.
Marcy writes for television, stage and radio.
She wrote Goldberg Variations, which
was produced off-Broadway in May 1999 and directed by Alison Summers.
Her screenplay ANTONIA & JANE , starring Imelda
Staunton and Saskia Reeves, directed by Beeban Kidron,
was the first BBC tv film to be given theatrical
release by Miramax.
Marcy's adaptation of Nora Ephron's WHEN HARRY MET
SALLY premiered at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in
2004. She wrote and directed Ben Keaton's one-man
show, INTIMATE MEMOIRS OF AN IRISH
TAXIDERMIST , which won the Perrier Award at the 1986
Marcy has written about twenty original plays for BBC radio
including Everybody Comes to Schicklgruber's (1996), and The
Uncertainty Principle (1999), a comedy about genetic forecasting
set in Manhattan in 2099 and commissioned by BBC World Service to
mark the beginning of the new century. She's also done radio
adaptations, including a ten-hour
version of Tolstoy's WAR & PEACE (co-writer Mike
WOMEN ;ANNE OF GREEN GABLES ;THE RAILWAY CHILDREN;
THE WIZARD OF OZ and ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (a
BBC/CBC Toronto co-production).
Marcy wrote for the long-running BBC World Service
"soap", Westway. She has written a series of comedies
about Noel Coward, starring Malcolm Sinclair as
Coward and Eleanor Bron as his secretary: DESIGN FOR
MURDER; BLITHE SPY; A BULLET AT
BALMAIN'S, DEATH AT THE DESERT INN, OUR MAN IN JAMAICA and MR. BRIDGER'S ORPHAN.
OBJECT OF INSANE DESIRE was
broadcast on the 4th of March 2006 (BBC
World service Play of the Week, directed by David
Hitchinson). TWENTY CIGARETTES was broadcast in mid-2006.
OUR MAN IN JAMAICA, the final play in the "Noel Coward"
quintet, was broadcast on 31 Mar 07.
RADIO BROADCASTS - mainly BBC
1985 The Contemplative Life* (R3)
1985 One last final fling*
1986 The transmogrification of Herbert Mellish*
c1991 Purgatory (R3)*
08.07.96 Everyone comes to Schickelgruber's*
28.12.97 War and Peace* (Tolstoy), dram, with Mike Walker
19.03.98 Salzburg in London
20.08.99 The Uncertainty Principle*
08.01.00 Design for Murder*
23.10.00 The DJ who used to be a nun's tale*
25.12.00 The man who came to dinner* (Hart & Kaufman), dram
27.10.01 Killing Katerina
22.06.02 Blithe Spy*
15.12.02 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn* (Twain), dram, 3 x 60m
12.05.03 The Nonentity*, 30m
08.11.03 A bullet at Balmain's*, 60m
2003 ....Drop Dead Gorgeous* (New York Radio)
11.12.04 ....Death at the Desert Inn*
04.03.06 Object of Insane Desire (WS)
18.08.06 Twenty Cigarettes*
31.03.07 Death at the Desert Inn*
xx.11.07 Marvellous! (WS), 15m*
02.05.08 The Playwright & the Grammarian*
03.05.08 Black Cat Murder Mystery: Fitzrovia*
03.05.08 From Fact to Fiction*
19.09.08 Psmith in the City (Wodehouse), dram*
07.10.09 Life complicated, status pending*
01.01.10 Big in Samoa (scheduled broadcast date)
14.01.11 Incredibly Guilty
15.05.13 Mr. Bridger's Orphan
15.07.13 Lunch (5 x 15m)
Date nk - The Wizard of Oz, dram.
*exist in collections within VRPCC
THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE (Radio 3, 1985)
Marcy’s debut radio play starred Alan Rickman as a
homicidal Benedictine monk. Directed by Cherry
ONE LAST FINAL FLING (R4, 1985)
-starred Robin Bailey
and Fabia Drake in a sexagenarian romantic comedy set
in Paris. Directed by Jeremy Mortimer.
VIVA (R4, 1986)
-starred Alison Steadman as a student
of English Literature at Oxford undergoing an oral
examination to see if she is worthy of a first-class
degree. Directed by Cherry Cookson.
Comment from ND - Lovely 30m play about a bright young
student who's being grilled by a group of objectionable elderly dons
about the exam she's just taken. Witty, humorous; excellent use
THE TRANSMOGRIFICATION OF HERBERT MELLISH (R4 1986)
was one of that season’s commissioned Elephant Plays
in which three playwrights were sent the same
illustration by the Times cartoonist Peter Brookes,
and asked to write a play inspired by the drawing.
Directed by Cherry Cookson.
THE WIZARD OF OZ....c1990
Stars Maureen Lipman as the Wicked Witch.
PURGATORY (R3 1991?)
-starred Miriam Karlin and Bill
Paterson in a metaphysical comedy about three people
in a room after death. Directed by Marilyn Imrie.
EVERYONE COMES TO SCHICKELGRUBER'S 1996
Hitler's long- lost brother, discovered fifty years after the war, his cake shop,
and his obsession with pastries. What a wonderful plot...
(Monday Play, 80m).. with Kerry
Shale as Nathan Waterstone, Clive Swift as Edward Schickelgruber,
Lee Montague as Uncle Lou Wasserstien, Ann Beach as Sadie
the widow, Bruce Purchiss as Jerome the cabbie, Alice Arnold
as Julie, with Cyril Shaps, Wolf Morris, Timothy Bateson,
David Kossoff as Max Kellenbaum (Schickelgruber's rival), Christian
Millward, Kim Wall, Jane Whittenshaw, Keith Drinkel, Stephen
Crossley. Music by Neil Brand; directed by Ned Chaillet.
WAR & PEACE 1997
Tolstoy's famous novel, dramatised in ten parts by Marcy Kahan and
Mike Walker. Set in 1805, and Napoleon is threatening
the peace of Europe. With
Simon Russell Beale, Gerard Murphy, Richard Johnson; directed by
SALZBURG IN LONDON 1998
Esther Salzburg is a screenplay writer who leaves New York to get
some peace and quiet in a block of flats near the West End of
London. It doesn't quite work out like that. With Tara Hugo,
Robert Goodale, Marcella Riordan, Kerry Shale, Mis Soteriou,
Kristin Milward, Carolyn Jones; directed by Gordon House.
Three actors recreate a crucial hour in cinema history...when Orson
Welles delivered his verdict on the screenplay for "Citizen
Kane"...at stake is the credit for the film, being written by Herman
Mankiewicz and overseen by John Houseman. Stars Stanley Kamel,
David Ogden Stiers, William Hootkins; directed by Ned Chaillet.
WAR AND PEACE....1998
Ten hour dramatisation of Tolstoy's masterpiece; co-writer
Mike Walker. This won the 1998 Talkie award for Best Drama.
THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE 1999
The Uncertainty Principle by Marcy Kahan was set in 2099; a world
where everyone knows his lifespan. People live at the appropriate
pace; short-lifers are frenetic; short-attention-span,
beer-swilling hedonists; long-lifers are more laid back:
advocates of lifelong learning, retraining for different
jobs each decade, and making long term investments. When a
short-lifer overstays his welcome by not dying at the right
time, why does it have to be kept secret? Kerry Shale and Clive
Swift were Adam and Igor; Gordon House directed. Kahan also
wrote "Everyone comes to Schickelgruber's" - the play about
Hitler's long lost brother, discovered aged 90 running a
cake shop and broadcast a couple of years ago; this effort
was in the same class. With Kerry Shale, Clive Swift, Mia
Soteriou; directed by Gordon House.(ND, VRPCC newsletter, Sep 99)
DESIGN FOR MURDER 2000
Noel Coward was good at everything he turned his hand to ... was
the gap in his memoirs because he spent some time, unknown to
others, as a spy? With Malcolm Sinclair as Coward, with
Eleanor Bron, Kristin Milward; directed by Ned Chaillet.
THE DJ WHO USED TO BE A NUN'S TALE 2000
Part of the Chaucer 600th anniversary: "2000 Tales", where
travellers who're stranded at a moterway service station
because of appalling weather decide to tell each other stories
to pass the time whilst waiting to be rescued...with Robert
Glenister, Zita Sattar, Frances Tomelty, Carl Grosse, Eleanor
Bron; directed by Jeremy Mortimer.
THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER
The 30s comedy, adapted for radio by Marcy Kahan; a broken leg
turns a visiting celebrity into an impossibly irritating
house-guest who outstays his welcome many times over...with
Simon Callow as Sheridan Whiteside, and Elizabeth McGovern,
Conleth Hill, Cheryl Campbell, John Sessions; directed by
KILLING KATERINA 2001
A comedy of unpleasant manners; with Jane Bertish, Paul
Bhattacharjee, Kerry Shale, Emily Raymond; directed by Marion
BLITHE SPY 2002
A sequel to "Design for Murder" mentioned above. Another interesting
Noel Coward pastiche, with Malcolm Sinclair, Eleanor Bron,
Elizabeth McGovern; directed by Gordon House. Rpt. 21 Aug 04, R4.
ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN 2002
Huck and his runaway slave companion Jim on their famous journey
down the Mississipi on a raft. Surprised to hear this; rather politically
incorrect these days; excellent listening nevertheless; put out as the Classic
Serial. A joint project between
the Beeb and CBC, who spend as much on radio drama as we do,
producing plays rivalling the BBC's in quality. Three 60m
episodes. Cast: Mark Caven as Mark Twain, Christopher Jacot as
Huck, Martin Roach as Jim, Kay Hawtrey as Miss Watson, Sandy
Webster as Judge Thatcher, with Elva Mai Hoover, Peter Oldring,
Shawn Mathieson, Herbie Barnes, Les Carlson, Wayne Ward,
Nicky Guadagni, Jack Nicholsen, Pierre Brault, Sam Malkin;
directed by Ned Chaillet. Music specially composed by John Roby.
The CBC website gave the following information about the production,
which I have paraphrased: "One of the great classics of American
literature: A production of the British Broadcasting Corporation,
with the technical support of CBC, and using an all-Canadian cast,
broadcast during the last three weeks of December 2002, on
Sunday Showcase and Monday Night Playhouse. Huckleberry Finn continues
the adventures begun with Twain’s Tom
Sawyer. Twain (the pseudonym for Samuel Clemens) began the sequel
in 1876 and completed it in 1884. It is regarded by many critics
as more accomplished and a more serious work of art, as well as a
keener portrayal of the frontier experience along the Mississippi
than Tom Sawyer. The novel was groundbreaking in its depiction of
the horror of slavery and the mistreatment of blacks in that region".
The production features Christopher Jacot as Huck and Martin
Roach as Jim. Other cast members include Hardee Lineham (King),
James Kee (The Duke), and Peter Oldring as Tom Sawyer.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was produced at CBC’s Toronto
studios by the BBC’s Ned Chaillet.
THE NONENTITY 2003
Set in Moscow: Dmitri once made a good living out of his
writing: dull social-realist stories which pleased the ruling Communist
Party. Now they've gone, and his work is no longer needed. Why has a young
woman publisher flown all the way from London to meet him? With Kenneth
Cranham, Eleanor Bron, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Stephen Critchlow.
Produced and directed by Peter Kavanagh.
A BULLET AT BALMAIN'S....2003
Noel Coward stars in another murder mystery, played by Malcolm
Sinclair: he's in post-liberation Paris, 1948, to play the lead, in French,
in his own play "Present Laughter". But the muder of a promiscuous
mannequin provides him with a crime to solve...also stars Eleanor
Bron, Tam Williams, Linda Marlowe, Susy Kane, Jaimi Barbakoff, William
Hootkins and Frances Jeater; dir. Ned Chaillet.
DROP DEAD GORGEOUS....2003
A comedy about the global fashion
industry, starrring Elaine Stritch. Bronze Medal for
Best Play, 2003 New York Radio
Death at the Desert Inn ....2004
11 Dec 04. Saturday play.
Three hundred thousand dollars are left in a satchel in Noël Coward's Las Vegas suite, and Coward sets off again on his unexpected posthumous career as a detective. The Desert Inn, scene of one of his greatest cabaret triumphs, is the setting for 'a highly probable Noël Coward Murder Mystery' complete with Judy Garland, a showgirl, a Broadway agent, an unlikely croupier, a U.S. Congressman and Coward's act, with half of Hollywood in the audience.
Noel Coward ...... Malcolm Sinclair
Lorn Loraine ...... Eleanor Bron
Cole Lesley ...... Tam Williams
Judy Garland ...... Belinda Lang
Joe Glaser ...... Jake Broder
Mercedes De Caruso ...... Meredith MacNeil
Nicholas Faulkner ...... Peter Swander
Floyd Hicks ...... Nathan Osgood
Babyface Puccine ...... William Hootkins
Directed by Ned Chaillet.
18.08.06. Comic play, 55m, about a guy whose girlfriend will not marry
him until he gives up smoking. With Anton Lesser.
...in the psychoanalyst’s chair he must name the 20 most
significant cigarettes in his life. "I would rather not
discuss my mother", he says of the person who gave him the first
one, an occasion she paid him attention. "Now we’re getting
somewhere", comes the reply.
update....stage version at the Soho Theatre, London - produced by the National Youth Theatre. Directed by Toby Frow. Radio version nominated for the 2007 Tinniswood Award (q.v.).
OUR MAN IN JAMAICA....2007
Final instalment of the Noel Coward quintet. Starring the usual suspects plus Nicholas Farrell as Ian Fleming and Alison Pettitt as Marlene Dietrich. Producer Gordon House.
Nov 07, World Service. A 15-minute play, part of the "Picture a Play" project, starring Colin Stinson, Lia Williams and Anton Lesser. Producer Marion Nancarrow.
....UPDATE......Marcy has 3 new plays coming up during the May bank holiday
Friday, May 2nd 2008: R4 Afternoon play:
The Playwright & The
Grammarian, starring Alison Pettitt and Penelope Wilton (a comedy for
BBC R4 about how BBC R4 can change your life). Dir. Gordon House.
Saturday, May 3rd 2008: BBC World Service World Drama:
Fitzrovia: A Black Cat Murder Mystery - starring Stephen Mangan and
Jason Chan. Dir. Marion Nancarrow. (Part of the 2008 international
Worldplay radio festival).
Saturday, May 3rd 2008: R 4 - 7 p.m. -
From Fact to Fiction: a 15-minute
play based on the week's headlines.
PSMITH IN THE CITY....2008
Series of the classic tales by P.G.Wodehouse. With Nick Caldecott as Psmith; Simon Williams as P.G.Wodehouse. Other cast members: Inam Mirza, Stephen Critchlow, Chris Pavlo, Jonathan Tafler, Robert Lonsdale. Produced by Abigail le Fleming. Marcy has dramatised for this series:
1. First steps in a business career
2. The haunting of Mr. Bickersdyke
3. Stirring times with Comrade Waller
4. Psmith arranges his future
These were excellent dramatisations of highly entertaining stories, and one hopes that others will be commissioned.
LIFE COMPLICATED; STATUS PENDING....2009
Five members of the Facebook generation graduate into unemployment in September 2009 and invent their own strategies for survival. Written specifically for the five youngest actors in the BBC repertory company. Directed by Jeremy Mortimer & Kate Verghese. R4, 1415, 7 Oct 09.
BIG IN SAMOA by Marcy Kahan....2010
Scheduled for Friday Play slot, 1 Jan 10, 2100 hrs.
Starring Tom Goodman-Hill and Hugh Bonneville. Directed by Sally Avens.
Marcy Kahan's humorous afternoon play, INCREDIBLY GUILTY (R4,14 Jan 2011) was very welcome on a gloomy January day. Ed is about to give a big presentation at work. On the way there he accidentally causes a national celebrity to fall off his bike. He's carted off to hospital, and the next Ed hears is that the guy has gone into a coma. He agonises about whose fault it was, and whether he should he go to the police and own up. Stephen Mangan turned in an excellent comic performance as Ed, with Naomi Frederick as his girlfriend and Sean Baker and Joanna Monro as work colleagues. The production was by Sally Avens. (....ND, Diversity website review, Apr 2011.)
Ed Hanson ..... Stephen Mangan,
Lucinda ..... Naomi Frederick,
Penhaligon Rhinehart ..... Sean Baker,
Marion Spooner ..... Joanna Monro,
Sanjay Patel ..... Adeel Akhtar,
Bella McFadden ..... Naomi Sheldon,
Rhett Rhinehart ..... Lloyd Thomas,
Nick ..... Iain Batchelor,
Kitty ..... Deeviya Meir,
Ed's Mother ..... Christine Kavanagh.
15-19 Jul 13, 5 x 15m. Two friends who met at college a generation ago now meet up once a month for lunch, where they have a heart-to heart. A romantic comedy with Stephen Mangan and Claire Skinner. Producer Sally Avens.
MR. BRIDGER'S ORPHAN....2013
Fri 15 Mar 13; 45m. The play was commissioned to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of Noel Coward, and is the sixth play about The Master by Marcy Kahan. Mr Bridger's Orphan tells a surprising and little-known story from his life. It's 1968 and Coward is in Dublin to play the chief gangster in the film The Italian Job. But why has the urbane actor and playwright, in failing health, accepted the role?
The play tells the story of how his involvement in the movie emerged from a significant encounter during Coward's dynamic and humane twenty-year Presidency of the Actors' Orphanage, revealing the down-to-earth man behind the sometimes waspish and rarefied public persona.
Between 2000 and 2008 playwright Marcy Kahan wrote a quintet of comic plays about Noel Coward for BBC R4, each set in a different city at a different stage of his life. Design for Murder was a 1930s backstage murder mystery; Blithe Spy took him to New York on an wartime espionage adventure, consistent with his real-life work for British Security Co-ordination; A Bullet At Balmain's interrupted his 1947 Paris stage debut with the death of a fashion-house mannequin; Death At the Desert Inn distracted him from his 1955 Las Vegas cabaret debut with the death of a chorus girl; Our Man in Jamaica re-enlisted him as a spy in 1961, as part of his neighbour Ian Fleming's outlandish plot to destabilise Fidel Castro.
Mr Bridger's Orphan reunites the cast of the Coward quintet: Noel Coward is played by Malcolm Sinclair; his devoted secretary Lorn Loraine by Eleanor Bron; and his devoted Man Friday, Cole Lesley, by Tam Williams. And it also features young Finlay Christie, who's making a name for himself as one of our youngest stand up comedians, and who stars in the Radio 4 comedy series the Gobetweenies. The producer is Marilyn Imrie.
Compiled by Nigel Deacon, Diversity Website. Some information supplied by M.K.
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