GLENDA JACKSON WINS CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
FOR HER FIRST STAGE ROLE IN 25 YEARS
HARRY POTTER WINS THREE AWARDS
AHEAD OF BROADWAY TRANSFER
BILLIE PIPER AND STEPHEN DILLANE WIN BEST ACTOR AWARDS
* TIM MINCHIN’S GROUNDHOG DAY WINS BEST MUSICAL AWARD
* TWO WINS APIECE FOR BOTH OLD VIC AND YOUNG VIC
* JOHN TIFFANY WINS BEST DIRECTOR, TEN YEARS AFTER WINNING FOR BLACK WATCH IN 2006
The Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2016 were hosted today, Tuesday 31st January 2017, by the Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chairman Mark Shenton, at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London.
The Awards were presented in association with Nyman Libson Paul Chartered Accountants, leading entertainment industry specialists, and supported by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.
As ever, the ceremony was an informal gathering of award recipients, the drama critics, theatre practitioners and the media, convivially coming together to celebrate the critics’ personal choice of the best theatre from throughout the UK during the last calendar year.
Comedian Arthur Smith introduced proceedings with his own inimitable style, as has become a well-loved tradition. And, for the first time, the exclusive invited audience also enjoyed a sneak-peek performance of new Gary Barlow and Tim Firth musical The Girls, which is currently in previews at the West End’s Phoenix Theatre, where it officially opens on 21st February and will be eligible for next year’s awards. Today, star Joanna Riding performed “Scarborough”, accompanied by Tim Firth.
For a list of previous years’ winners, visit criticscircletheatreawards.com.
Twitter: @CCTAwards #CriticsCircleAwards
Best New Play: The Flick by Annie Baker
The National Theatre, London
award presented to Jaygann Ayeh by Georgina Brown, The Mail on Sunday
The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical [new or revival]: Groundhog Day
Old Vic, London
award presented to Kate Varah and Andre Ptaszynski by Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph
Best Actor: Stephen Dillane in Faith Healer
Donmar Warehouse, London
award presented to Stephen Dillane by John Nathan, The Jewish Chronicle
Best Actress: Billie Piper in Yerma
Young Vic, London
award presented to Billie Piper by Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
The Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance: Glenda Jackson in King Lear
Old Vic, London
award presented to Glenda Jackson by Susannah Clapp, The Observer
Best Director: John Tiffany for Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
Palace Theatre, London
award presented to John Tiffany by Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
Best Designer: Christine Jones for Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
Palace Theatre, London
award presented to John Tiffany by Michael Billington, The Guardian
Most Promising Playwright: Charlene James for Cuttin’ It
Young Vic, Royal Court & The Yard Theatres, London, Birmingham Rep & Sheffield Crucible
award presented to Charlene James by Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer [other than a playwright]: Anthony Boyle in Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
Palace Theatre, London
award presented to Anthony Boyle by Dominic Maxwell, The Times
Since the Awards’ inception in 1989 the theatre critics, consisting entirely of respected and influential working journalists, have prided themselves on offering something unique on the packed theatre awards circuit: each member of the Drama Section independently casts their vote based on personal choice, free of any discussion or industry influence, ensuring a highly democratic voting process.
January 31, 2017
For: West End Wilma
It’s not everyday you get to see a brand new musical but Wonderland has arrived in Sunderland in only the second week of its tour and it’s really rather good.
On her 40th birthday Alice (Kerry Ellis) has received a letter from her ex husband to say he’s got remarried. Her car has been stolen – making her late for work – resulting in her getting fired from her job in a Travel Agency. She loses her keys and forgets to buy food. Her ex husband’s reach still lingers making her think she is a terrible person and she wants to escape reality. Teenage daughter Ellie (Naomi Morris) feels she is the responsible one looking after her mum rather than the other way round and painfully shy next door neighbour Jack (Stephen Webb) has taken 3 years to pluck up the courage to talk to Alice.
Instead of a rabbit hole, the White Rabbit (Dave Willetts) takes the lift that has apparently never worked. Ellie chases the White Rabbit down to Wonderland so Alice chases Ellie and Jack chases Alice.
Once in Wonderland the characters move the plot along explaining that they all wanted to leave the real world behind and once the Queen of Hearts ( a woefully underused Wendi Peters) chops off your head you can stay in Wonderland for ever.
What follows is a romp around Wonderland with advice from the rather smooth Caterpillar (Kayi Ushe), the trickster Cheshire Cat (Dominic Owen) and a wonderfully bonkers Mad Hatter (Natalie Mcqueen). With a bit of female empowerment they learn to stand up to bullies and find their destinies and all learn they can live happily ever after.
Neil Eckersley’s production of Wonderland is big, bold and bright. Adapted by Robert Hudson for the show’s UK debut following a short Broadway run in 2011. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories the show is co-written by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, with original lyrics by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Jack Murphy. Lottie Wakeham’s direction and Lucie Pankhurst’s choreography all help in this spectacle move along. But for me it’s Grace Smarts rather wonderful costumes that are the star of the show. A steampunk Mad Hatter, boy band Knights and a tartan bedecked Queen of Hearts who wears the most magnificent shoes.
WONDERLAND has a hesitancy about it because it’s new but once it finds its feet, I think it has the ability to be phenomenal.
Toby Boutall and Theatre N16 present:
Toby Boutall’s debut play, centred on masculinity stigmas and male mental health, heads to Theatre N16 for an exclusive 4 performances. In the piece, the audience meet Will, a follow a day in his life – but how will it end? Tackling the thorny issue of the ever-rising male suicide, this new dark comedy examines the way men treat themselves (and each other) in the 21st century.
We are all trying to find that little ounce of joy that makes you want to wake up the next day. Whether that is going home to a beautiful family and eating a Chinese takeaway, or whether that is meeting friends for one drink which ends up being nine vodka-cokes, one mixed kebab and an overpriced taxi to Jennifer’s as she has a hot tub and a dancemat.
Toby Boutall has spent the last few years, performing in musicals and events player larger than life characters. After starting with a 13 piece band touring the country, Toby quickly found himself jumping on many musical theatre bandwagons and performing all over Europe. Since 2015, Toby has been the musical coordinator on A Concise History of How One Should Party (Courtyard Theatre, 2015) – a piece originally penned as an exploration of society and politics, through music, but ending up an all immersive crazy evening of theatrics and homage to the greatest musicians of the 20th century.
Will Power is immersive, using audience members as characters to examine the harsh reality of how men struggle, as well as showing that men can and should show emotion – countering such classic phrases as ‘man up’ and ‘grow some balls’!
Theatre N16 is a trailblazing theatre company, dedicated to creating a creative hub where new and existing works can be explored and pushed into new realms. Theatre N16 is proud of their commitment to the welfare of creatives, operating under an Equity Fringe Agreement. This promoting and nurturing of talent means that Theatre N16 is a bastion for development within the context of a society in which the arts are increasingly struggling to stay afloat.
The BBC has announced today that Lucie Jones is one of the six artists chosen to perform the songs competing for the UK’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest. Lucie will perform the song on Eurovision: You Decide, a show to be held at the Eventim Hammersmith Apollo on 27 January 2017 and broadcast live on BBC Two, presented by Mel Giedroyc. The winner, who will be revealed on the night after a combined expert jury and live public vote, will then represent the UK at Eurovision, with the Grand Final on Saturday 13 May in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The ballad that Lucie is singing, Never Give Up On You, is the work of composers and lyricists The Treatment, Emmelie de Forest and Lawrie Martin, and can be heard now at the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/eurovision/entries/9ced8ad0-73ed-4765-b5e4-d26a82f25670
Lucie is currently starring as Maureen Johnson in the new 20th Anniversary production of Jonathan Larson’s ground-breaking Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical RENT. The show is currently playing a sold-out season at St. James Theatre, London until 28 January and will then embark on a major UK tour until 27 May 2017. RENT has been nominated for Best Regional Production at the 17th Annual What’s on Stage Awards, taking place in London next month.
Lucie said “I’m absolutely thrilled to be invited to take part in Eurovision: You Decide. Never Give Up On You is an incredibly powerful song, especially when sung live! I can’t wait to perform it live on BBC Two on Friday night.”
Producer Robert Mackintosh said “On behalf of the producers of RENT, we are delighted that Lucie Jones has been selected to sing one of the six songs in the running to compete for UK’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Lucie is one of the UK’s brightest young talents and a valued company member. We wish her every success for Eurovision: You Decide this Friday.”
Lucie was a finalist on The X Factor in 2009 and has most recently starred as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (Curve, Leicester). Her other theatre credits include Molly Jenson on tour in Ghost the Musical, Victoria in American Psycho at The Almeida, Meatloaf in the International Tour of We Will Rock You and Cosette in Les Miserables at Queens Theatre, London’s West End and O2 Arena. Lucie also toured the UK in The X Factor Arena Tour.
The cast of RENT also includes Billy Cullum as Mark Cohen, Ross Hunter as Roger Davis, Ryan O’Gorman as Tom Collins, Javar La’trial Parker as Benjamin Coffin III, Layton Williams as Angel Schunard, Philippa Stefani as Mimi Marquez and Shanay Holmes as Joanne Jefferson, with Jenny O’Leary, Katie Bradley, Joshua Dever, Kevin Yates, Bobbie Little, Christina Modestou, Jordan Laviniere, Harrison Clark and Oliver Bingham.
Jonathan Larson’s musical, inspired by Puccini’s opera La Bohème, won four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1996. Ben Brantley’s New York Times review was a love letter to the show, calling RENT an “exhilarating, landmark rock opera”. RENT ran on Broadway for 12 years, from 1996 to 2008. The show premiered in London’s West End in 1998 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where it ran for 18 months. It was adapted into a film in 2005.
Larson’s world is inhabited by a group of bohemian artists who struggle to maintain their friendships and their non-conformist ideals in New York’s East Village. Facing their problems head on, they make personal self-discoveries and find what really matters most in life. The poignancy of the story was heightened when Jonathan Larson died of an aortic dissection on 25 January 1996, the night before the show’s first off-Broadway performance at New York Theatre Workshop.
The much-loved score features songs such as Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me, What You Own, One Song Glory, La Vie Bohème, Without You, I’ll Cover You, Out Tonight and I Should Tell You.
The new production of RENT has Choreography by Lee Proud, Musical Direction by Phil Cornwell, Set Design by Olivier Award-winner Anna Fleischle, Costume Design by Loren Elstein, Lighting Design by Olivier and Tony Award-winner Rick Fisher, Sound Design by Olivier Award-winner Mike Walker, Video Design by Andrzej Goulding and Casting by Will Burton Casting.
RENT has Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson, Musical Arrangements by Steve Skinner, Original Concept and Additional Lyrics by Billy Aronson, Music Supervision and Additional Arrangements by Tim Weil, and Dramaturg is Lynn Thomson. RENT was originally produced in New York by New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Alan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop.
RENT is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Ltd. For more information, visit www.RENTonstage.co.uk
8 December 2016 to 28 January 2017
St. James Theatre
12 Palace Street
London SW1E 5JA
Box Office: 0844 264 2140 Website: www.stjamestheatre.co.uk
31 January to 4 February 2017
Devonshire Park Theatre
Eastbourne BN21 4BW
Box Office: 01323 412 000 Website: www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/venue/devonshire-park-theatre
6-11 February 2017
Kent BR1 1HA
Box Office: 020 3285 6000 Website: www.churchilltheatre.co.uk
14-18 February 2017
13 / 29 Nicolson Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9FT
Box Office: 0131 529 6000 Website: www.edtheatres.com
28 February – 4 March
Liverpool Empire Theatre
Liverpool L1 1JE
Box Office: 0844 871 3017
New Victoria Theatre
Surrey GU21 6GQ
Box Office: 0844 871 7645
28 March to 1 April 2017
Leicester LE1 1SB
Box Office: 0116 242 3595 Website: www.curveonline.co.uk
3-8 April 2017
Wales Millennium Centre
Cardiff CF10 5AL
Box Office: 029 2063 6464 Website: www.wmc.org.uk
11-15 April 2017
Cheltenham Everyman Theatre
Cheltenham GL50 1HQ
Box Office: 01242 572573 Website: www.everymantheatre.org.uk
18-22 April 2017
York Theatre Royal
St. Leonard’s Place
York YO1 7HD
Box Office: 01483 440000 Website: www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
1-6 May 2017
Poole’s Centre For The Arts
21 Kingland Road
Dorset BH15 1UG
Box Office: 01202 280000 Website: www.lighthousepoole.co.uk
9-13 May 2017
Coventry CV1 1GS
Box Office: 024 7655 3055 Website: www.belgrade.co.uk
16-20 May 2017
Nottingham, NG1 5AF
Box Office: 0115 941 9419 Website: www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk
23-27 May 2017
Assembly Hall Theatre
Kent TN1 2LU
Box Office: 01892 530613 Website: www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk
Grand Opera House, York – 30 January to 4 February. Reviewed by Marcus Richardson
Gaslight is Amazing, I can only start that way as I fell head over heels for it.
The play set in the 1930s starts out everything seeming normal between a married couple, and then we learn new things and witness new acts, drawing us into the pool of immersion and hidden truths. Everything about it oozed the different aspects of theatre I love; an impacting story, a twist and of course good acting.
I would first like to say a massive “thank you” to the cast for pulling off an amazing show and for making the first act seem like twenty minutes and me wanting more.
Kara Tointon who played the leading role of Bella Manningham, was just sheer perfection everything about the ways she portrayed the character, to the way that she interacted with each of the other characters and how subtle changes she made and different attitudes that were so believable, brought this character to life.
The other actor who stood out for me was Keith Allen who played Rough, that’s the character’s name, though he played it far from rough. The character was witty and very funny in situations but also making sure he didn’t ruin certain more serious moments. When he first appeared on stage as the character I was a bit unsure about it as it just seemed rather silly, but then I got a feel for the character and then I ended up loving him. His relationship on stage with Tointon was so personal and so true even if the characters had just met it just seemed right.
All the other characters and the two maid who did the most amazing job bringing that homely charm with a repeating ‘yes, sir’ after anyone spoke made for a light comedy effect. The staging was very nice with a very naturalistic and homely feel (with a few secrets), it dragged you into the story even more as if you were watching an episode of Downton Abbey but in less room. It gave a lot for the characters working with the stage interacting with little things such as candles of the fair place or to looking at books on the bookshelf, it gave the show life that in a way seems to be so close to ours, yet we are reminded that we are watching a show.
At points they can be facing away from the audience which I quite liked because, yes they do have to play to the audience it drew us in and it let us get emotionally involved a kept us suspended.
Overall this has been one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while and I would highly and I mean highly recommend that people should go and see it. I find it very hard to be so immersed into a play that it makes the first act seem like it finishes in a blink of an eye, so for that to happen to me I was impressed. It touches on issues that still has relevance today and gives the audience a form on connection that way. It will be on at the York Grand Opera House until the 4th of February so go and see it!
Arts Theatre 25 January – 18 March. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
According to writers Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna, “Love stories are good, but the great ones are dirty”. Well, they’re right – Dirty Great Love Story is a fantastic, filthy and sweet show. Originally a much shorter poetry duet, this award-winning play boasts engaging and instantly recognisable characters, in situations that lots of the audience will have experienced shamefacedly.
From the moment Ayesha Antoine (Katie) and Felix Scott (Richard) walk onstage with an engaging turn off your phone shtick, they have the audience in the palms of their hands. Katie and Richard then tell their own versions of the story of how they met, and the two years that followed. From a drunken one night stand after hen and stag dos, through awkward encounters at friends’ barbecues, weddings and christenings, misunderstandings and lost chances are portrayed with cringeworthy honesty and charm.
Antoine is spiky and defensive as Katie at first, still reeling from the ending of her last relationship, but the crumbling of her defences is handled brilliantly, showing the loneliness beneath. Antoine morphs into posh and brashly honest best friend CC with a flick of her hair, creating a wonderful character straight out of AbFab. Scott is charming and loveable as hapless Richard – the moment he finally makes a big gesture is fantastic, and his completely unromantic proclamation of love is just beautiful, making you want to stand up and cheer. Scott’s portrayals of best mate Westie – straight from a Northern pub – and pretentious old Etonian love rival Matt are just hysterical.
The poetry is fast and furious, lyrical and heartfelt. The knowing way that the audience is left hanging waiting for the inevitable rhyming insult is handled perfectly by the actors, whose timing and chemistry is sublime. The difference between the sexes is emphasised by Katie’s long, evocative descriptions of a situation, followed by Richard’s matter of fact one word opinion, to huge comic effect.
The set, lighting and sound design is deceptively simple, with a board game like grid lighting up too represent night clubs, saunas and cars to great effect. The sound and lighting are so in tune with the gorgeous language of the play that you don’t take much notice, everything works together to create a joyous, heart-warmingly funny and real love story.
Dirty Great Love Story definitely lives up to its name – this is a date night treat that will have men and women aching with laughter. There’re not many love stories that can do that.
VAULT Festival 25 – 29 January. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
RedBellyBlack’s stunning production asks the question “where do you see yourself a year from now?” of 14 real people. The answers received are moving and inspiring, and presented in a fascinating and poetic production.
The cast of five begin by introducing themselves in a slightly cheesy manner and then lose themselves and their voices in the characters’ interviews. The actors lip-synch to the recorded voices, but this becomes less and less obvious as the production progresses, with perfect timing and expressive performances making it hard to believe that the cast themselves are not speaking. The interviewees range from a boisterous 4 year old to new parents to an elderly couple just grateful for every day. Oscar Scott-White’s beautifully nuanced portrayal of an old lady is full of dignity and faded glamour, while Jessica Warshaw’s brash and outwardly confident woman delivers a devastating final thought with a haunting look at the audience. Some sequences are solo, some paired, and some have what can only be described as backing dancers. As the story unfolds, choreographed movements complement the words and rhythms – to comic effect when a teenager is proclaiming the need for good eyebrows, and heart-breaking emotion as a man describes the loss of his mother while the actors physically support and hug each other in a twisting pas de deux.
Grief, loss, responsibility and fear are explored, and a four-hander sequence of survivors of stroke, cancer and brain injury is an inspirational celebration of human fragility and potential. The ways the damaged people have learned to deal with the sudden change to their life is not sugar coated and the fear and regret in their voices is palpable as they look to the future with a “keep calm and carry on” attitude that we see every day.
When people talk about issues like this, they defend themselves with humour, and there are some great laughs in this show, interspersed with the hypnotic movement and sniffle inducing moments. The show brushes over the celebrity curse of 2016, and the political situation, but doesn’t dwell on these issues, instead focussing on the small (but huge) personal, human stories to be told, and telling them in an imaginative, respectful and entertaining way.
The general answer to the question asked seems to be alive and happy. That’s not much to ask for, is it?
Richmond Theatre 23 – 28 January National tour until July 2017. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
The Classic Thriller Company brings Ruth Rendell’s novel to the stage with great style. Simon Brett and Antony Lampard have adapted the slow burning story of class resentment and shame and created a nostalgic but disturbing drama.
Set in a wood panelled manor house room, the play opens with two detectives discussing the unsolved murders of the Coverdale family on Valentine’s Day. They question Eunice Parchman, the housekeeper, who is still living in the house weeks later. In a fractured timeline, the build-up to the murders is shown, beginning with Eunice’s job interview. Awkward and reserved, Eunice’s (an unrecognisable Sophie Ward) initial bewilderment at the behaviour of the privileged Coverdales develops into simmering resentment as she befriends village outcast Joan (an equally transformed Deborah Grant). Throw in a doddery old cleaning lady, usurped by Eunice’s efficiency, and a recently paroled ladies’ man gardener, and a wonderful comedy of class confusion plays out in parallel to the murder mystery as the Coverdales waft through life with an unshakeable air of upper class self-assurance, never realising the impact of their good intentions.
The lightness of the comedy is slowly overshadowed by the sense of impending doom in the second act, but when the murder is finally shown, it is truly shocking – not because of the violence, but because it shows that murder can come from petty, niggling feuds, making it much more terrifying.
The script is tight and moves the plot along nicely, with transitions between past and present shown seamlessly and simply by subtle lighting change and the cast passing each other as they walk on and off stage. There is lots of humour, but the cast also do wonders with nuanced performances revealing the characters’ true feelings.
Andrew Lancel and Ben Nealon as the detectives have the driest roles, basically acting as glorified narrators, but both actors bring warmth and interest to the stage – especially Lancel – oozing a sense of melancholy as he sits in the empty family home. Rosie Thompson is fantastic as Mrs Coverdale – channelling every upper class caricature possible. Deborah Grant chews the scenery as Joan Smith – portraying the unhinged woman as a childlike, but terrifying leopard print nightmare. Sophie Ward transforms into a dowdy, downtrodden spinster with incredible skill, managing to keep Eunice sympathetic and show her inner turmoil without the need for histrionics. A superb performance.
It makes me feel ancient to realise that this is now a period piece, with the awe and wonder shown by the characters at a cassette player that records bringing nostalgic chuckles from the audience, but the issues of class, entitlement, violence and disenfranchisement still loom large today, ensuring that the story still resonates with the audience.
A Judgement In Stone is a great novel, and this is a fine play. Catch it at a theatre near you on tour this year.
An Audiovisual presentation – The Lowry Centre Salford Quay. Jan 28th 2017. Reviewed by Mike Davies
This was a 40 minute audiovisual performance followed by a short meet the artists talk in the small Quay theatre. The Russian born duo have ongoing collaborations, in this art form. Dasha, the experimental techno DJ and graphics guru Stanislav have here attempted a herculean undertaking to try and describe the indescribable and have created something of a ‘curates egg’
Their most notable previous collaboration was the acclaimed ‘Antartic Takt’, developed for the Berlin ‘Atonal Festival 2014’ and performed all over the world.
The graphic effects were generated with a dual screen arrangement to give the illusion of depth and a quasi 3D effect, but the medium was insufficient to convey the full grandeur of the cosmological event being portrayed. The use of the forward mesh screen to presumably catch the reflection of the main image, did seem to improve the visual effects creating a mirage like forward image to give the required depth perception.
Dasha Rush is better known as an international techno DJ but I felt in this performance the ‘music’ was a little one dimensional. While the depiction at the end of what was apparently the evaporation of the black hole agreed with the current theoretical model this effect robbed the performance of a much needed crescendo
For me this meant the performance was all middle with not much beginning and no end. This is not to say that the performance had no merit, and may well have suffered from being staged in a small theatre. The artists are to be commended for the attempt to portray this subject but a true 3D or holographic medium may be the best venue, or possibly a surround or immersive setting as I discussed with the artist post show.
The general perception I got was nice attempt, and in general the audience seemed appreciative, but I left feeling there should have been more!