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Dealer's Choice

Dealer's Choice
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Patrick Marber
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 83
Pub. Date: 1997
Edition: Acting
ISBN-10: 0822216167
ISBN-13: 9780822216162
Cast Size: 6 male

About the Play:

Dealer's Choice has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Male Monologues and Male/Male Scenes.

Dealer's Choice is a full-length drama by Patrick Marber. Stephen holds a weekly game of poker in the basement of his restaurant where his son Carl, a regular gambler who has run up a debt, invites a professional player disguised as a teacher to join them. As the evening progresses, the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of all present are exploited as Patrick Marber examines the connection between the men, their relationships and their emotions.

Dealer's Choice is a biting comic drama focused around a weekly late-night poker game explores the price at which masculine family ties and friendships are forged and broken. Stephen runs a restaurant and has a weekly poker game in the basement. He enjoys playing for big money, and it's not unusual for the waiters to lose their paychecks, or more, each week. One of the waiters, Mugsy, wants to start a restaurant of his own. He needs a loan, and thinks Stephen will give it to him since he intends to go into business with Stephen's son, Carl. Carl doesn't want any part of a restaurant, and prefers to gamble away whatever money Stephen gives him. This is a long-term problem for Carl. He's gone back and forth with his father, lying about his gambling obsession, pretending to quit, then getting deeper in debt to feed his habit. Stephen tolerates Carl, but just barely. Instead, he offers fatherly love to Mugsy, a chronic loser, but a loser who refuses to give up. On this night, Ash, a professional gambler, shows up at the restaurant and threatens to kill Carl if he doesn't pay up the $4,000 he owes. Carl could ask his father for money again, but he's afraid to admit he hasn't given up gambling. Instead, he invites Ash to play poker with the guys, knowing he'll clean them out. At this high-stakes game, one by one the waiters drop out. Ash is confronted by Stephen, who can spot a professional a mile away but turns the table on Stephen when he asks him where Carl acquired his habit. Who is the real addict, Carl or Stephen? Shaken, Stephen admits he's hooked on the game. Finally knowing himself for what he is, Stephen approaches Carl with a newfound need to connect with his son. Dealer's Choice is chiefly remembered as the play about poker, but it is principally a play about fathers and sons and the emotional deficiencies of men prey to ungovernable obsession.

Dealer's Choice premiered in 1995 at the Royal National Theatre in London, transferring to the West End later that year. It won both the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy and the Writers' Guild Award for Best West End Play and went on to become a global hit and receive many awards.

Cast: 6 male

What people say:

"An exceptionally accomplished first play … though I know nothing about poker, I testify to the compulsive grip this play exerts and to the accumulation of meanings it ignites in your head." — Financial Times (London)

"…Marber — with his suggestions about life and, especially, fatherhood — plays out his dramatic hand with compelling skill, and Dealer's Choice strikes me as a straight flush." — New York Post

"Provides a tensely gripping portrait of male camaraderie, compulsive obsession, self-destructiveness, parental responsibility and thwarted dreams." — Sunday Express (London)

"…make tracks to Dealer's Choice, Patrick Marber's wonderfully masculine, razor-sharp dissection of poker as life … It's a play that comes out swinging and never lets up — a witty, wisecracking drama that relentlessly probes the tortured souls of its six very distinctive … characters. Choice is a cutthroat pleasure that you won't want to miss." — Time Out

"Unmissably good." — Daily Telegraph (London)

"Playwright Patrick Marber … plays his hand with the skill of a Vegas pro. Dealer's Choice … is a neat … comic drama that gives its talented players ample opportunity to outbid one another." — Variety

"Patrick Marber's enthralling close-up of the demons which drive compulsive gamblers is among the finest new plays in many a year." — Daily Mail (London)

About the Playwright:

Patrick Marber is an award-winning British playwright and screenwriter. He worked as a stand-up comedian for a number of years. He began his career as a writer in 1986. He co-wrote and appeared in a number of radio and television programs. In 1995 his first play, Dealer's Choice, premiered at the National Theatre in a production he also directed. Since then he has written plays and screenplays and also written extensively for television and radio.

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