Closer author Patrick Marber's long-awaited new play, Howard Katz, receives its world premiere at the National's Cottesloe Theatre tonight, 13 June 2001, following previews from 1 June. Howard Katz, written and directed by Marber and starring Ron Cook, is Marber's first new play since Closer in 1997. It completes the author's contemporary London trilogy, penned for the National.

Husband, father, son, brother, showbiz agent, fifty and furious, Howard Katz throws his life in the air to search for his soul. Ron Cook plays the title role. Cook's many theatre credits include The Machine Wreckers (RNT), 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (RSC), Our Country's Good (Royal Court/West End), Vassa (Almeida) and Glengarry Glen Ross (Donmar Warehouse). On film, Cook has appeared in Quills, Topsy Turvy, Chocolat and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

Cook is joined in the cast of Howard Katz by Ashley Jensen, Cherry Morris, Trevor Peacock, Paul Ritter, Nadim Sawalha, Mossie Smith and Russell Tovey. The play is designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone, music by Adrian Johnstone and sound by Christopher Shutt.

Marber's trilogy commenced with Dealer's Choice and continued with Closer, which also transferred to Broadway. It was the latter that really made Marber's name as a playwright. Dubbed the seminal play for the 1990s, Closer dealt with the vicissitudes of modern love as a quartet of lovers continually betrayed one another. It was heaped with accolades, including the Time Out Award for Best Play in the West End, the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award, the Critics' Circle Best Play Award and the Olivier Award for Best New Play.

Marber's other recent work as a director includes The Caretaker (Comedy), Blue Remembered Hills (National) and The Old Neighbourhood (Royal Court). He made his West End acting debut last year in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow at the New Ambassadors.

Terri Paddock