Playwright Charles Marowitz Dies at 80

Courtesy of Jane Windsor Marowtiz

A veteran of the London and Los Angeles scene, he mounted plays all around the world and wrote “Sherlock’s Last Case,” which bowed on Broadway in 1987.

Charles Marowitz, a playwright and theater director whose work included the Broadway production Sherlock’s Last Case, which starred Frank Langella as the famed detective, has died. He was 80.

Marowitz, who mounted plays all around the world and wrote reviews and books about the theater, died Friday in Agoura Hills, Calif., from complications of Parkinson’s disease, his wife, actress Jane Windsor-Marowitz, said.

A New York native who grew up on the Lower East Side, Marowitz spent almost three decades in London, where he and partner Thelma Holt founded the Open Space Theatre, a forerunner to the London Fringe.

Marowitz also served as co-director with Peter Brook at the Royal Shakespeare Company Experimental Group; there, he helped launch the acting career of two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson.

He directed a number of West End productions, including Joe Orton’s Loot and Jump by Larry Gelbart.

To fill a vacant slot at the Open Space, Marowitz wrote in one week Sherlock’s Last Case, a spoof on the Arthur Conan Doyle tales. It premiered on Broadway in August 1987 and ran through December, with Langella as Holmes and Donal Donnelly as Dr. Watson.

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After leaving the U.K. for Los Angeles in 1981, he worked with the Los Angeles Actors’ Theatre; one of his more provocative productions was a radical staging of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People.

Marowitz staged contemporary and classic productions in major theaters throughout Germany, France, Italy, Scandinavia and elsewhere, including Vaclav Havel’s Temptation at the National Theater in Prague.

In addition to the Open Space, Marowitz served as artistic director of In Stage in London, the London-Traverse, the Texas Stage Company of Dallas/Fort Worth and, from 1990 to 2005, the Malibu Stage Company.

Marowitz authored more than 30 books, most of which dealt with acting and directing. He began reviewing plays for The Village Voice in New York at age 17 and later wrote for such publications as The Guardian, The Times of London, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by their son, Kostya.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4