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Summary Article: Berkoff, Steven from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1937-

♦ English dramatist, actor and director

He was born in London, and after studying at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, he founded the London Theatre Group, for whom he directed his own adaptations from the classics, including Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis (1969), in which he himself played the role of the young man who finds himself transformed into a beetle. His own plays include Greek (1979, a variant of the Oedipal myth transferred to contemporary London) and West (1983, an adaptation of the Beowulf legend); Decadence (1981) counterpoints the sexual and social activities of an upper-class couple with that of a working-class woman and a private detective, and in Kvetch (1987) the anxieties of a group of West End Jews are metamorphosed into a comic dinner party. He has also played film villains, as in Octopussy (1983) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984). Other plays and adaptations include Agamemnon (1977), The Fall of the House of Usher (1977), The Trial (1981), Sink the Belgrano (1986), In the Penal Colony (1988), Brighton Beach Scumbags (1991) and Sit and Shiver (2004). His solo shows include Shakespeare's Villains (1998), and his books include I am Hamlet (1989) and Tough Acts (2003).

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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