'Dice Man' pulls crowds with promise of living dangerously

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The Independent Culture

Nearly every night for a week, an elderly American gentleman has been rolling dice in the foyer of a West End theatre. And the excitement his presence is generating is testament to a remarkable revival of interest in one of the cult books of the early 1970s.

The man is George Cockcroft, better known as Luke Rhinehart, author of the 1971 hit The Dice Man which introduced generations of readers to the concept of "dice living" - making your life choices on the throw of dice.

He has been courting Lady Luck in the foyer of the Arts Theatre with would-be members of the audience for The Dice House, a play inspired by his text. Punters can buy a ticket in the normal manner - or they can roll six dice with the throw setting the price.

Andy Bouchard, box office manager, said there had been a phenomenal trade during the previews. Even before tonight's official opening, the theatre has been playing to 80 per cent audiences. "People aren't buying tickets in advance because they want to roll the dice," he said.

In 1999, Loaded named The Dice Manits "novel of the century". The flurry of publicity prompted a re-print. The original edition sold 205,000 copies, but the new print has already sold 90,000 with a further 12,000 sales in another special edition.

And it seems a long-awaited film version may finally get made. Over the years there have been at least 15 screenplays. Now Paramount is hunting for a director.

It was young people who were discovering it for the first time, George Cockcroft said. "More than half the emails I get are from people under the age of 25," he said, adding: "Everything happens by chance, of course."