playwright and theatre director, born in Middlesex and educated in Birmingham. Insignificance (1982), like much of his later work, is peopled with real characters: the play evokes a (fictional) meeting between Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Joe DiMaggio, and Senator McCarthy in a New York hotel room in 1953. This was followed by Unsuitable for Adults (1984), the first of his trilogy of plays examining the relationship between the British and their comic icons. The serious questions raised by these plays are belied by the comedy, which often extends to pure slapstick or farce. In Hysteria (1993), Freud and Dali are among the characters in what turns out to be a nightmarish reincarnation of a Freudian case history. Johnson continued his sequence on British comedy with Dead Funny (1994), and completed it with Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick (1998). He has directed extensively at the Royal Court Theatre, the Bristol Old Vic, and the National Theatre. His other plays include Cries from the Mammal House (1984), Imagine Drowning (1991), a successful stage adaptation of The Graduate (2000), and Hitchcock Blonde (2003).