Trevor Griffiths, Marxist Writer for Stage and Screen, Dies at 88

Trevor Griffiths, a prolific and avowedly Marxist writer for stage and screen most widely known for his play “Comedians,” which was staged in London and on Broadway, died on March 29 at his home in Yorkshire, England. He was 88.

His agent, Nicki Stoddart, said the cause was heart failure.

An important figure on the English left, Mr. Griffiths conjoined the political with the personal and expressed that affinity across a wide range of topics, whether connected to British party politics or comparable upheavals abroad.

He was at his most visible during the decade or so from 1975 onward. That period encompassed the premiere of “Comedians” in Nottingham, England, in 1975, as well as its New York premiere in 1976 — it was his only Broadway play — and his lone foray into Hollywood, as a collaborator with Warren Beatty on his screenplay for the much-admired movie “Reds” (1981).

Laurence Olivier, right, with Gawn Grainger in a scene from Mr. Griffith’s play “The Party” (1973) at the Old Vic Theater in London. It was Olivier’s last stage role.Credit…via Everett Collection

His plays granted Laurence Olivier his last stage role, in the National Theater premiere of “The Party” (1973) — an anatomy of the British left set against the backdrop of the 1968 political tumult in Paris — and offered early opportunities for budding talents like Jonathan Pryce, who won a Tony for “Comedians,” and Kevin Spacey and Gary Oldman, who starred in the American and British premieres of the play “Real Dreams” in the 1980s.

“Comedians,” set in Manchester among the hopefuls in a night comedy class, has had various notable revivals over the years — among them a 2003 Off Broadway production, with Raúl Esparza inheriting Mr. Pryce’s career-defining role, and one at London’s Lyric Hammersmith in 2009, David Dawson playing the same role.

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