(Rupert Christiansen’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 10/4.)

Tom Stoppard’s Travesties changed Patrick Marber’s life. “I saw it in a school production when I was 14,” he recalls. “It was my first encounter with Stoppard’s writing, and it radiated a glamour and intelligence that staggered and entranced me. It left me thinking that I wanted to write like that and be with people who said such clever things. That feeling has stayed with me ever since.”

Four decades on, and 52-year-old Marber (best known as the author of Closer and Dealer’s Choice) is directing a rare revival of the play at the Menier Chocolate Factory, with Stoppard at his side during rehearsals. Stoppard may be approaching 80 and garlanded with an Order of Merit for his services to the theatre, but he is devoid of Grand Old Man affectations, and he and Marber are working here as equals, with a relaxed professional rapport.

“Returning to it now, I’m surprised that when it was being written, I didn’t realise how strange it was,” says Stoppard. “All I can remember is that I wanted to create a play which passed through different idioms.”

Photo: UK Telegraph

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