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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Playwright accused of plagiarism
Swoosie Kurtz starred in the Broadway production of Frozen
British playwright Bryony Lavery has been accused of plagiarising the work of a leading criminal psychologist for her Tony-nominated play Frozen.

Dr Dorothy Lewis, a New York university professor, alleges the play draws on her studies into the criminal mind and biographical details about her.

Frozen focuses on a kidnapper and an academic studying serial killers.

Dr Lewis said "page after page, paragraph after paragraph" was based on her work and her life.

She alleged the play draws on her book Guilty by Reason of Insanity and an article written about her by journalist Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker.

She and Gladwell said there were at least 12 instances where the play overlapped into Dr Lewis' work and that of the article, including one passage which was "almost verbatim".

As part of her research into forensic psychiatry, Dr Lewis interviewed a number of serial killers, including the infamous Ted Bundy before his execution.

Turn down requests

"If you look at the incidents in the play, you'll see every one of them comes from the book or the article," said Dr Lewis' lawyer Martin Garbus.

Dr Lewis said she had turned down previous requests to use her work for fiction but had planned on writing a screenplay eventually.

Frozen was originally staged off-Broadway before transferring to Broadway, featuring Swoosie Kurtz, Brian O'Byrne and Laila Robins.

O'Byrne won a Tony Award for his role as a serial killer but the play missed on winning the best play award to I Am My Own Wife.

Lavery's latest play, Last Easter, is currently running at the MCC Theater on Broadway.

A spokesman for the theatre said: "Attorneys have been engaged, the discussions are amicable, and we expect a resolution."

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