The first fosterIAN awards: a summary

So here we have it, the results of the first fosterIAN™ awards, themselves the fruit of a great year of theatre-going in which I rather suspect the fine line between passion and obsession has become somewhat blurred! Hey-ho, there’s 12 plays booked so far for January so I think I know which side is winning! Happy new year.

Best Play
The Roman Tragedies, Barbican
Best Fringe Play
Public Property, Trafalgar Studios 2

Best Actor in a Play

Hans Kesting, The Roman Tragedies

Best Actress in a Play

Rachel Weisz,
A Streetcar Named Desire
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Andrew Scott, Cock

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Rebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale
Best MusicalHello, Dolly!

Best Actor in a Musical
Simon Burke, La Cage aux Folles
Best Actress in a Musical
Samantha Spiro, Hello, Dolly!

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Oliver Thornton, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Josefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!

Most versatile actor
Tie: Nancy Carroll, Arcadia + Twelfth Night and Simon Burke, When the Rain Stops Falling + La Cage aux Folles

Best success in the face of adversity

Helen Dallimore, Too Close To The Sun

Closest move to Damehood
Imelda Staunton

Leading man of the year
Elliot Cowan

2009 Best Play/Best Musical


Best Play

The Roman Tragedies, Barbican
On paper, it shouldn’t have worked: 6 hours of 3 Shakespeare plays back-to-back performed in Dutch, but this was one of the most exhilarating theatrical experiences one could have imagined. Genuinely innovative: using live-video footage effectively and creatively, inviting the audience onto the stage to watch from sofas there, but supplemented with acting of a first-rate degree, often so good you didn’t even need the surtitles to understand what was being said. On top of that, it made three of Shakespeare’s longest plays feel fresh, new and directly relevant to issues of the nature of democracy in our world today: it must come back!
Honourable mention
Our Class, National Theatre
One of the most important new plays written in recent years: a painful, brutal account of the horrors perpetrated in wartime but also of how those actions continue to reverberate through the years and most importantly a reminder of what humans are capable of when caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Beautifully staged, hauntingly acted, this is a play that will remain with me for a long time.

Arcadia, Duke of York’s
Cock, Royal Court
A Streetcar Named Desire, Donmar Warehouse
When the Rain Stops Falling, Almeida
Best Fringe* Play
Public Property, Trafalgar Studios 2Sam Peter Jackson’s dark comedy managed the rare feat of being exactly that: both dark and comic in the right measure and in plentiful supply. In the intimate space of the Trafalgar Studios basement, the rapid-fire quips left me constantly in stitches whilst the manipulative, duplicitous plot raised questions about the celebrity-hungry world in which we now live, a play which has improved in my estimation since seeing it.

Honourable mention
The Spanish Tragedy, Arcola
It is well-established that fringe theatre is generally more daring and able to take creative risks than the West End, but rarely is it done with such elan and style as by this Mitchell Moreno-directed version of The Spanish Tragedy. Utilising elements of Japanese puppet theatre and video sparingly enhanced this sparse production to a new level, and a range of inventive ways to suggest the extreme levels of gore found a strange beauty amongst all the horrific death.
Frank’s Closet, Hoxton Hall
The Last Five Years, Duchess
The Pietà, St John’s Piccadilly
Edmond, Wilton’s Music Hall
Best Musical
Hello, Dolly!, Regents Park Open Air Theatre
As happy and delightful as musicals can get. Completely old-school and refreshingly free of any postmodern ironic touches, I saw this outdoors on a unseasonably cold, rainy late August night and it filled me with such warmth and joy I could have sat right through it again (though perhaps with a blanket!)

Honourable mention
La Cage aux Folles, Playhouse Theatre
Run a close second with Priscilla, but any musical that can tempt me back time after time (3 trips for me this year) has to be acknowledged. With some canny casting decisions that kept audiences coming back and regular changes to arrest any flagging numbers, this musical remained a delight for me. A happy, proud show but with as sweet a love story at the centre of it as ever you will see. Such a shame that it is now closed but I hope it does well on Broadway.
The Last Five Years
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Sister Act
Sweet Charity

2009 Best success in the face of adversity, and Damehood

Best success in the face of adversity

Helen Dallimore, Too Close To The Sun
Cynics might think I created this category specifically so that Too Close To The Sun could win something, and they might be right. The particular performance that I witnessed involved what can only be described as “tablegate”, so not only did they have to put up with delivering one of the worst musicals ever created, the cast in particular Helen Dallimore, had to contend with a collapsing wicker chest and the funniest case of ongoing corpsing I’ve ever seen. It made what would have been a tragedy into an ‘event’ and one which I feel privileged to have been part of!

Honourable mention
The cast of Madame de Sade
Miranda Richardson, Grasses of a Thousand Colours
When the Donmar West End season was announced, my eyes were immediately drawn to the third play, the only one to feature an all-female cast and one of such calibre that Iwas eagerly anticipating Madame de Sade. What a shame that this was the only mis-step in a excellent season: a turgid, laborious piece that not even a Dame could rescue.
And there needs to be some recognition of the indignities suffered upon Ms Richardson, cast as a lover of Wallace Shawn in a play written by the self-same Wallace Shawn, he had her pretending to be a cat and licking his bald head.

Closest move to damehood

Imelda Staunton
Parading all her wares us to laugh at in Entertaining Mr Sloane, Imelda Staunton showed great fortitude and continued a legacy of fine fine performances on the stage (which, combined with her efforts in Cranford) means that a place on the Queen’s list must surely be hers soon.

Celia Imrie
Fiona Shaw
Juliet Stevenson

2009 Best Actor in a Play/in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Hans Kesting, The Roman Tragedies
As Mark Antony in The Roman Tragedies, Hans Kesting was an intense revelation, a commanding leading man: passionate, rousing and above all virile, his explosive sexual chemistry with Cleopatra genuinely palpable. That he did all of this in Dutch with a newly broken leg, either from a wheelchair or with a crutch, just added to the frisson of excitement. To witness an actor throwing so much of himself into a role and committing so thoroughly was an absolute privilege and one that I truly hope to witness again, in Dutch, English or whatever language he chooses to speak!

Honourable mention
Jude Law, Hamlet

One’s first Hamlet should always be a special one, and I was lucky enough to have had the Talented Mr Law as mine. Having avoided ever seeing it before, I was finally tempted by the Donmar West End’s production. Roundly denounced as a piece of stunt casting long before the first performance and following on from David Tennant’s largely praised run earlier in the year, Jude Law proved his critics seriously wrong with a beautifully impassioned performance, incredibly dark, intense and even morbid at times, I finally understood why it is considered one of ‘the’ roles for an actor to play.

Dominic Rowan, The Spanish Tragedy
David Troughton, Inherit the Wind
Dan Stevens, Arcadia
Henry Goodman, Duet For One

Best Actor in a Musical
Simon Burke, La Cage aux Folles
Playing against John Barrowman in anything might seem like an unenviable task, not least in this pinkest of shows, but Simon Burke was more than equal to the job in matching La Barrowman’s excesses and constantly reminding us of the warm heart beating beneath the feathers and the spangles of this show. Redefining the central relationship was a necessity due to the younger ages of this iteration of the cast and it was interesting to see the sexual dynamic between the two played up, there was no question who wore the trousers on top of this relationship though, Burke’s Georges was wickedly comic and flirtatious and ultimately highly watchable.

Honourable mention
Carl Mullaney, Frank’s Closet
Switching effortlessly between a fine selection of divas and belting out their classics may seem like a regular gig for many a drag act or gay karaoke night, but nowhere was it done with more panache than at the delightful Hoxton Hall in Frank’s Closet by Carl Mullaney. Lightning quick changes, a strong mellifluous voice, this was also an incredible demonstration of physical theatre in how he captured the different mannerisms and movements of each of the divas.

Roger Allam, La Cage aux Folles
Mark Umbers, Sweet Charity
Aneurin Barnard, Spring Awakening
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

2009 Best Actress in a Play/in a Musical

Best Actress in a Play

Rachel Weisz, Streetcar Named Desire
In a year full of strong female performances, not least just at the Donmar Warehouse, Rachel Weisz’s Blanche Dubois took this well-established character and gave it a whole new spin, but one which worked perfectly. Using Weisz’s (allegedly fading) looks to the full, this was a Blanche whose lonely desperation was heartbreaking to watch, yet to the end full of a grace that couldn’t be dimmed.

Honourable mentions
Phoebe Nicholls/Lisa Dillon, When The Rain Stops Falling
Chris Nietvelt, The Roman Tragedies

I’m cheating here as I found this my hardest category to decide. Nicholls and Dillon were superb playing older/younger versions of the same character, with beautifully nuanced performances which reflected each other subtly and were incredibly moving.
And I had to include Chris Nietvelt as her Cleopatra (and indeed her hysterical cameo as the newsreader in Coriolanus) was a tour de force in intense acting, transcending linguistic barriers and revealing the beating heart of the Egyptian queen.

Imelda Staunton, Entertaining Mr Sloane
Juliet Stevenson, Duet For One
Anna Chancellor, The Observer

Best Actress in a Musical

Samantha Spiro, Hello, Dolly!
Bursting with an infectious vitality and as cheery a disposition you’ll find this side of the rainbow, Samantha Spiro’s titular Dolly shone with such brilliance that I didn’t mind the cold and wet at the Open Air Theatre and would happily have sat through it all again no matter how unseasonably chilly it was.

Honourable mention
Julie Atherton,
The Last Five Years
Echoing the Ginger Rogers quote about how she did everything Fred did but backwards and in heels, Julie Atherton had the harder job in two-hander The Last Five Years, having to tell the story of the troubled relationship in reverse, but she is such a skilled performer she had the audience in tears and caring deeply for her pain within 5 minutes. I look forward to the day when she gets the huge recognition she deserves, she really is one of the most accomplished actresses in Britain at the moment.

Melanie Chisholm, Blood Brothers
Donna King, Frank’s Closet
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Tamzin Outhwaite, Sweet Charity

2009 Best Supporting Actor in a Play/in a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Andrew Scott, Cock
In a late challenge for this award, Andrew Scott’s performance in Cock was truly astounding for me: I’ve rarely seen an actor so fully at ease with his lines that it feels genuinely like he’s not even acting. In the strange cock-fighting-inspired pit, there was nowhere to hide, for actor nor audience, meaning we could bear witness to the considerable intensity of this performance down to the last tear on his cheek.

Honourable mention
Simon Paisley-Day, Entertaining Mr Sloane
The sight of the closetted Ed salivating over the leather-trouser clad Mr Sloane was a highlight of the year even back in February and Paisley-Day’s chemistry with Dame-to-be Imelda Staunton made this play crackle with more twisted hilarity than even Joe Orton migth have dreamed of.

Mark Dexter, Inherit the Wind
Tom Goodman-Hill, Enron
Ethan Hawke, The Winter’s Tale
Barnaby Kay, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Oliver Thornton, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Threatening to steal the show with his every number, Thornton’s camptastic Felicia is a sheer riot to watch. Perfectly toned, shockingly limber, obsessed with Kylie and armed with the most vicious of tongues, we also never lose sight of the boy beneath the make-up and his growing chemistry with Tony Sheldon’s Bernadette is a thing of beauty to watch through its ups and downs.

Honourable mention
Daniel Crossley, Hello, Dolly!As is probably apparent by now, I loved practically everything about Hello, Dolly! And as Cornelius Hackl, Daniel Crossley was a delight. His learning to dance scenes were hysterical and Put On Your Sunday Clothes with its choreography is close to being one of the happiest thing I’ve ever seen.

Rowan Atkinson, Oliver!
Clive Carter, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
John Marquez, Annie Get Your Gun
Jason Pennycooke, La Cage aux Folles

2009 Most versatile actor of the year

This late addition of a category came out of a couple of things: one a conversation over Christmas mainly about how many of the actors in Cranford I had seen onstage this year but in non-bonnety roles and the realisation whilst watching Twelfth Night that I had seen onstage more than once this year. Hence this award: it’s necessarily limited by the number of plays I’ve seen this year but is still a bit of fun.

Most versatile actor
Nancy Carroll,
Arcadia & Twelfth Night / Simon Burke, When The Rain Stops Falling & La Cage aux Folles

From the aristocratic Lady Croom in Arcadia to the convincingly boyish Viola in Twelfth Night, Nancy Carroll impressed me immensely with her range this year, playing flirtatious, upper-class hauteur with as much dexterity as Shakespeare’s ambiguous, lovelorn twin.
And in equal first, demonstrating just as much versatility is Simon Burke: the very essence of Australian heterosexual blokeishness in When the Rain Stops Falling, he was barely recognisable as the same actor singing his heart out and flirting with all the boys in La Cage aux Folles


Honourable mention
Toby Jones, Every Boy Deserves Good Favour & Parlour Song
From the tormented prisoner with an orchestra in his head to a suburban husband with a cheating wife, Toby Jones displayed a full array of dramtic skills, with a particularly delicious show of comic acting in the latter, with razor-sharp timing and bags full of charisma.

Joseph Millson, Judgment Day & The Priory
James Fleet, The Observer & Twelfth Night
Elliot Cowan,
A Streetcar Named Desire & Edmond
Samantha Spiro, Twelfth Night & Hello, Dolly!

2010 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Enron by Lucy Prebble – Royal Court / Noël Coward
Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth – Royal Court / Apollo
The Mountaintop by Katori Hall – Trafalgar Studio 1
Red by John Logan – Donmar Warehouse

Best New Musical
Dreamboats and Petticoats – Savoy
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Palace
Sister Act – London Palladium
Spring Awakening – Novello

Best Revival 
A Streetcar Named Desire – Donmar Warehouse
A View from the Bridge – Duke of York’s
Arcadia – Duke of York’s
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Novello
The Misanthrope – Comedy
Three Days of Rain – Apollo Continue reading “2010 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

2009 Best Supporting Actress in a Play/in a Musical

Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Rebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale
Make no mistake about it, Rebecca Hall is destined for great things, she is a fantastic actress and proved this in her Bridge Project turns this year. I plumped for her Hermione over her Varya as it was a slightly better role for her with more opportunity to showcase her heartbreaking treatment. Mark my words, this woman will become huge!

Honourable mention
Kate Fleetwood, Life is a Dream
Stealing the show somewhat for me, Kate Fleetwood’s Rosaura provided a welcome light-hearted comic relief to this darkly-hued play and kept the attention on what felt like a slightly superfluous sub-plot.

Jessie Cave, Arcadia
Michelle Dockery, Burnt By The Sun
Alexandra Gilbreath, Twelfth Night
Ruth Wilson, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Josefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!
As widowed milliner Irene Molloy, Josefina Gabrielle’s turn in Hello, Dolly was sweet of voice, nimble on the dancefloor, nicely comic and the perfect foil for Samantha Spiro’s lead role. And appearing now in
another sterling supporting role (or two!), I hope it is not too long before she returns to head up a good musical.

Honourable mention
Sheila Hancock, Sister Act
Following on from her well-received turn in Cabaret, Sheila Hancock visited another musical with her presence, this time Sister Act in the role of Mother Superior and boy what fun she has and so in turn do we. Neither the best singer or dancer, it matters not a jot, in fact it enhances her performance as the senior nun and lends a nice gravitas to this show. For an actress in her late 70s, her energy levels and creative choices are a lesson to us all.

Josefina Gabrielle, Sweet Charity
Tiffany Graves, Sweet Charity
The Lovely Debbie McGee, Frank’s Closet
Jodie Prenger, Oliver!

The inaugural fosterIAN award nominations

fosterIAN (fos-tîr’ē-ən) – an award given for excellence in the theatre that I have witnessed.

For a long time, one of my life’s ambitions has been to get the word ‘fosterian’ into the lexicon. I always thought it would be an adjective, like Thatcherite or Marxist, but I’ve now come to realise it is actually a noun, and hence we have the first fosterIAN awards. (Basically, if it’s good enough for Lord Olivier, I can have my own awards too!) Nominations can be found below, and results will be announced early in the New Year.

Best Play
Arcadia, Duke of York’s
Cock, Royal Court
Our Class, National Theatre
The Roman Tragedies, Barbican
A Streetcar Named Desire, Donmar Warehouse
When the Rain Stops Falling, Almeida

Best Fringe* Play
Edmond, Wilton’s Music Hall
Frank’s Closet, Hoxton Hall
The Last Five Years, Duchess
The Pietà, St John’s Piccadilly
Public Property, Trafalgar Studios
The Spanish Tragedy, Arcola

Best Actor in a PlayHenry Goodman, Duet For One
Hans Kesting , The Roman Tragedies
Jude Law, Hamlet
Dominic Rowan, The Spanish Tragedy
Dan Stevens, Arcadia
David Troughton, Inherit the Wind

Best Actress in a Play
Anna Chancellor, The Observer
Phoebe Nicholls/Lisa Dillon, When The Rain Stops Falling
Chris Nietvelt, The Roman Tragedies
Imelda Staunton, Entertaining Mr Sloane
Juliet Stevenson, Duet For One
Rachel Weisz, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best Supporting Actor in a PlayMark Dexter, Inherit the Wind
Tom Goodman-Hill, Enron
Ethan Hawke, The Winter’s Tale
Barnaby Kay, A Streetcar Named Desire
Simon Paisley-Day, Entertaining Mr Sloane
Andrew Scott, Cock

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Jessie Cave, Arcadia
Michelle Dockery, Burnt By The Sun
Kate Fleetwood, Life is a Dream
Alexandra Gilbreath, Twelfth Night
Rebecca Hall, The Winter’s Tale
Ruth Wilson, A Streetcar Named Desire

Best MusicalLa Cage aux Folles
Hello, Dolly!
The Last Five Years
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Sister Act
Sweet Charity

Best Actor in a Musical
Roger Allam, La Cage aux Folles
Aneurin Barnard, Spring Awakening
Simon Burke, La Cage aux Folles
Carl Mullaney, Frank’s Closet
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Mark Umbers, Sweet Charity

Best Actress in a Musical
Julie Atherton, The Last Five Years
Melanie Chisholm, Blood Brothers
Donna King, Frank’s Closet
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Tamzin Outhwaite, Sweet Charity
Samantha Spiro, Hello, Dolly!

Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalRowan Atkinson, Oliver!
Clive Carter, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Daniel Crossley, Hello, Dolly!John Marquez, Annie Get Your Gun
Jason Pennycooke, La Cage aux Folles
Oliver Thornton, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Josefina Gabrielle, Hello, Dolly!Josefina Gabrielle, Sweet CharityTiffany Graves, Sweet Charity
Sheila Hancock, Sister Act
The Lovely Debbie McGee, Frank’s Closet
Jodie Prenger, Oliver!

Special categories

Best success in the face of adversity
Helen Dallimore, Too Close To The Sun
The cast of Madame de Sade
Miranda Richardson, Grasses of a Thousand Colours

Closest move to damehood
Celia Imrie
Fiona Shaw
Imelda Staunton
Juliet Stevenson