Marcy Kahan Radio Plays

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 Edinburgh Festival.

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 Walker); LITTLE 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.

1985 The Contemplative Life* (R3)
1985 One last final fling*
1986 Viva*
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
14.08.98 Victorville*
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
14.01.11 Incredibly Guilty
15.05.13 Mr. Bridger's Orphan
15.07.13 Lunch (5 x 15m)
27.09.15 Look Who's Back (Vermes), dram

Date nk - The Wizard of Oz, dram.
Two more series of 'Lunch', 2014-15

*exist in collections within VRPCC


Marcy’s debut radio play starred Alan Rickman as a homicidal Benedictine monk. Directed by Cherry Cookson.

-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 of radio.

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.

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.

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 Janet Whitaker.

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.

Ten hour dramatisation of Tolstoy's masterpiece; co-writer Mike Walker. This won the 1998 Talkie award for Best Drama.

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)

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.

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 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 Ned Chaillet.

A comedy of unpleasant manners; with Jane Bertish, Paul Bhattacharjee, Kerry Shale, Emily Raymond; directed by Marion Nancarrow.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A comedy about the global fashion industry, starrring Elaine Stritch. Bronze Medal for Best Play, 2003 New York Radio Festival.

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.

.......BBC publicity: ...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.).

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 week-end:

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:
Nostrovia 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.

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.

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.)

    Cast: 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.

    15 Jul 13: 15 Minute Drama - Lunch, Reunion 1/5
    By Marcy Kahan. A platonic romantic comedy: Bill and Bella haven't seen each other for years. They were great friends when they shared a flat, now they disagree about everything; it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Bill works as an economist in a right wing institute giving succour to bankers and businessmen. Bella teaches yoga, waters the plants in Canary Wharf and holds a Proust seminar for retirees. But years ago they shared a flat before Bill got married and moved to the States. Now he's back and he's feeling a little off kilter; his son's stopped talking to him, his wife's not interested, so he decides to hook up again with Bella. So once a month they meet for lunch, where they talk about everything; the one thing they don't talk about is how much they love each other. Bill - Stephen Mangan; Bella - Claire Skinner; Director - Sally Avens; Producer - Sally Avens; Writer - Marcy Kahan.

    16 Jul 13: 15 Minute Drama - Lunch, Takin' a Chance on Love 2/5
    By Marcy Kahan. Bella has begun dating, whilst Bill is worried his wife is a racist. Details as Jul 15.

    17 Jul 13: 15 Minute Drama - Lunch, Carpe Diem 3/5
    By Marcy Kahan. A health scare changes Bill's outlook on life, whilst Bella is having trouble deciding how to choose between the men she is dating. Details as Jul 15.

    18 Jul 13: 15 Minute Drama - Lunch, Like Moths unto a Flame 4/5
    By Marcy Kahan. Bella is making the most of her new found libido whilst Bill is convinced he's being sabotaged at work. Details as Jul 15.

    19 Jul 13: 15 Minute Drama - Lunch, Send in the Clowns 5/5
    By Marcy Kahan. Both Bill and Bella have dramatic news for one another. Could this be their last lunch or their first dinner together? Details as Jul 15.

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.

27 Sep 15: Classic Serial: Look Who's Back
By Timur Vermes, ep. 1 of 2. This is a satire; Hitler wakes up in 21st-century Berlin and decides it is time to retake control. Adapted for radio by Marcy Kahan. Hitler: David Threlfall, Fraulein Vera Kromeier: Alex Tregear, Frau Bellini: Caroline Berry, with Richard Mylan, John Norton, Sargon Yelda, Ben Crowe, Debra Baker, Leo Wan, George Watkins. Producer: Helen Perry. In the series "Reading Europe".

4 Oct 15: Classic Serial: Look Who's Back,2
By Timur Vermes, ep. 2 of 2. In 21st-century Berlin, Hitler is the star of a TV show. As his rants increase in popularity, so does his power over the German people. Adapted by Marcy Kahan. Adolf: David Threlfall, Fraulein Vera Kromeier: Alex Tregear, with Ben Crowe, Caroline Berry, John Norton, Richard Mylan, Sargon Yelda, Debra Baker, Leo Wan, George Watkins. Produced by Helen Perry. In the series "Reading Europe".

Compiled by Nigel Deacon, Diversity Website. Some information supplied by M.K.

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