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Anthony Marriott

( b. Jan 17, 1931 London, ENGLAND - d. Apr 17, 2014 London, ENGLAND ) Male
Anthony Marriott was a onetime actor who hit the jackpot as a playwright when he plugged into the British penchant for loopiness and naughty bits, co-writing a farce that became the longest-running comedy in the history of theater in England. The record-setting play, No Sex Please, We're British, written by Mr. Marriott and Alistair Foot (who died a few weeks before opening night in London), ran in the West End for more than 16 years, from June 1971 until September 1987, a total of 6,761 performances in three different theaters.

The play tells the story of innocent and upright newlyweds, an assistant bank manager and his wife, who are forced to go to preposterous lengths to hide the flood of mail-order and personally delivered pornography they're being sent by mistake. Taking place in an apartment overloaded with exits and hiding places, No Sex Please devolves into what one critic described as "a slap-happy combination of tag, sardines and hide-and-seek."

In the original cast, the role of a bank cashier who becomes involved in the couple's plight was played by Michael Crawford, later the original Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera in London and on Broadway. Never a critical favorite -- the opening-night reviews were famously derisive -- No Sex Please still became a cultural fixture in London and, like "The Benny Hill Show" on television, an avatar of slapstick and harmless titillation.

The play ran in dozens of countries around the world, and though American tourists were part of its core London audience -- "If they've been out sightseeing all day it's easy to watch," the producer, John Gale, once opined -- the humor of the show never found traction in New York. The Broadway production, which opened in February 1973, closed after 16 performances.

In addition to No Sex Please, Mr. Marriott collaborated with Mr. Foot on a previous farce, Uproar in the House, and went on to write a number of other stage comedies, including Shut Your Eyes and Think of England, with John Chapman, and Home Is Where Your Clothes Are, with Bob Grant.

The producers' original investment in No Sex Please was $29,000 -- the equivalent of about $169,000 today -- which it earned back in six weeks. At the play's closing, The Associated Press reported that the box office had taken in $13.2 million, which, given inflation and the threefold (at least) rise in ticket prices since the production's run ended in 1987, translates to more than $80 million today.

Source: The New York Times obituary 

ProductionsDate of Productions
No Sex Please, We're British
[Play, Original]
  • Written by Anthony Marriott
Feb 20, 1973 - Mar 04, 1973
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