Choice: Theatre

Dealer's Choice, West Yorkshire Playhouse (0113-213 7700) 7.30pm
Dealer's Choice, West Yorkshire Playhouse (0113-213 7700) 7.30pm

Patrick Marber's second play, Closer, has won four major prizes including the Critic's Circle and Olivier awards, so who am I to carp - but I'm sorry to say that I think this, his first play, is better. Sue Higginson of the National Theatre Studio gave the one-time TV-writer and stand-up the time, space and a group of actors to develop a theatrical idea about a poker school and, two weeks later, Marber's group improvised what eventually became the first act of Dealer's Choice. The hilarious first act gives way to a physically and metaphorically darker second half which builds to an almost unbearably tense climax. By this point, the literal and dramatic stakes have climbed sky high and the action of the play speaks volumes about the power struggles going on between the characters. It's the kind of writing that must be a joy to act. It's certainly a cracker to watch.

David Benedict

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