2018 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

An interesting set of nominations have been announced for the 2018 Laurence Olivier Awards. Perhaps predictably, the headline grabbers are Hamilton with their record 13 nominations, and The Ferryman which received 8. I’m pleased to see Follies and Angels in America represent a strong showing for the National with 10 and 6 respectively, and also lovely to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie close behind with 5. Beyond delighted for The Revlon Girl too, my play of the year.

Naturally, not everything can get nominated and for me, it was most disappointing to see Barber Shop Chronicles miss out on any recognition. And with Hamilton crowding out the musicals categories, there was sadly no room for The Grinning Man, Romantics Anonymous and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (although I’m unsure of the Menier’s eligibility with regards to SOLT). And I think Victoria Hamilton (Albion). Philip Quast (Follies) and Louis Maskell and Julian Bleach (The Grinning Man)  are entitled to be a bit miffed.

How do you feel about these nominations? And what do you think should have been nominated instead?

Continue reading “2018 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

The 2017 Clarence Derwent Awards

UK – Best male in a supporting role (recognising supporting performances from 2016 and 2017) 
Peter Polycarpou in Oslo at the National Theatre and West End
Jonjo O’Neill for Unreachable at the Royal Court and Cymbeline at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

UK – Best female in a supporting role (recognising supporting performances from 2016 and 2017) 
Sheila Atim for the Donmar’s all-female The Tempest and Les Blancs at the National Theatre
Kate O’Flynn for her portrayal of Laura in The Glass Menagerie.

US – Most promising male
Will Pullen for Sweat

US – Most promising female
Katrina Lenk for The Band’s Visit

The finalists of The Offies 2018

The finalists of the The Offies 2018 have been announced and as ever, there’s much of interest there, in the choices made and the breadth of Off West End theatre celebrated. Play-wise, I’m delighted at the love for The Revlon Girl and An Octoroon here, nice to see the Bunker’s Eyes Closed Ears Covered rewarded too, plus Will Pinchin’s work in Frankenstein.
With the musicals, I’m not down with the love for Promises Promises, an ill-judged revival that added nothing to the conversation (and even less in these #MeToo times) and I’m disappointed that none of the boys of Yank! were recognised. The rest of the Southwark Playhouse’s spectacular year does get the appropriate plaudits though, with Superhero, The Life and Working all getting multiple nominations.
And lastly, at times it can seem like all you have to do is sing in your bathroom and you get an Offie nomination 😉 so it is interesting to see how the numbers break down, albeit somewhat vaguely. These 80 or so finalists have apparently been whittled down from over 350 nominations from over 190 shows – there’s clearly just a lot of Offies love to share. Should you wish to join in said sharing at the IRL award ceremony on Sunday 4th March at The Albany, Deptford, you can buy tickets here.

Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2018”

2018 What’s On Stage Award nominations


It’s that time of year again and getting in early with the announcement of their nominees is What’s on Stage. Voted for by the public, they’re often skewed a little towards the bigger ‘names’ but this year’s set of nominations are relatively controversy-free. There’s something a little odd about the way that regional theatre has its own separate category but its actors appear in the main ones – I feel like regional theatre productions should either be considered entirely in or out, rather than this halfway house.

Naturally, big shows rule the roost – 42nd Street and Bat out of Hell lead the lists with 8 nominations apiece – and they’ve even found a way to shoehorn in Hamilton by nominating it for the two new categories of Best Cast Recording (which somehow includes Les Mis??) and Best Show Poster, thus being able to get round it not actually being open yet and grabbing the requisite headlines once it does, inevitably, win.

Andrew Garfield, Angels in America
Andrew Scott, Hamlet
Bryan Cranston, Network
David Tennant, Don Juan in Soho
Martin Freeman, Labour of Love

Eve Best, Love in Idleness
Imelda Staunton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Olivia Colman, Mosquitoes
Natalie Dormer, Venus in Fur
Tamsin Greig, Labour of Love Continue reading “2018 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Review: Oslo, National Theatre

“The Americans cannot stand it when others take the lead”

What does it take to get peace in the Middle East? Some determined Norwegians and a plate or two of tasty waffles apparently… At a leisurely three hours in length and set around the Oslo Peace Accords, JT Rogers’ Oslo might not on the face of it seem like theatrical gold but it won a Tony on Broadway and such was the confidence in this production that a West End run was booked in to follow its short engagement at the National before a ticket had even been sold.
And it is a confidence that has paid off handsomely. Bartlett Sher’s direction has an epic sweep to its depiction of world affairs but Rogers’ writing shines through its focus on the intimate detail, on the personal struggle, sacrifice and success of the individuals who managed to break the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock and work towards the unimaginable – a lasting peace. History has shown us the reality of that, something acknowledged in a coda here, but it is still thrilling to watch,
Those individuals were diplomats Terje Rød-Larsen and Mona Juul, a Norwegian husband and wife whose unconventional approach proved to be the thing that worked – opening up a back channel to allow negotiators from both sides to sidestep some of the obstacles to dealing in public and painstakingly start the process of moving towards some kind of genuine rapprochement, away from the media glare and the beady eye of the extremists who wear its failure as a badge.
Rogers thus turns reconstruction into something thrilling, and Sher casts it to the hilt to make sure it is delivered to perfection. In Toby Stephens and Lydia Leonard, the contrasting officiousness and efficiency of Terje and Mona are beautifully played, both all too rarely appearing on our stages these days and in the latter case in particular, nailing this return. And Peter Polycarpou and Philip Arditti bounce wonderfully off each other as the Palestinian and Israeli representatives respectively, both impressing as they warily decide whether they could ever move closer to the other.
At a time of political upheaval for so many, Oslo serves as a telling reminder of the necessity of having people willing to step up to the plate, individuals willing to put themselves on the line for a greater cause than their own ambitions (not looking at anyone in the Conservative Party here). And though that same world might make it harder to believe, Rogers encourages us to not to relinquish what might seem impossible dreams.
Running time: 3 hours (with interval) 
Photos: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Booking until 23rd September, then transfers to the Harold Pinter Theatre, from 2nd October to 30th December


A whole load of Friday casting news

I want to be able to resist anything to do with Alan Ayckbourn but the cast and creatives for Chichester’s production of The Norman Conquests is making it very hard indeed. Wunderkind director Blanche McIntyre is at the helm of a company for the trilogy of plays that consists of Jonathan Broadbent, Trystan Gravelle, Sarah Hadland, John Hollingworth, Hattie Ladbury and Jemima Rooper. Best get booking then…

The National Theatre today announced Toby Stephens in the role of social-scientist Terje Rød-Larsen, with Lydia Leonard as his wife, diplomat Mona Juul and Peter Polycarpou plays Ahmed Qurie, theformer Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. The Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed production of OSLO,begins performances at the National Theatre on 5 September and later transfers to the Harold Pinter Theatre (2 October – 30 December 2017).

Oslo tells the true story of how one young Norwegian couple Mona Juul (Lydia Leonard) and her husband,Terje Rød-Larsen (Toby Stephens) planned and orchestrated top-secret, high-level meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which culminated in the signing of the historic 1993 Oslo Accords. Featuring dozens of characters and set in locations across the globe,Oslo is both a political thriller and the personal story of a small band of women and men struggling together – and fighting each other – as they seek to change the world. (Mona Juul is currently the Norwegian Ambassador to the UK – the first woman to occupy the role).

Joining Leonard, Stephens and Polycarpou is Geraldine Alexander, Philip Arditti, Thomas Arnold, Nabil Elouahabi , Paul Herzberg. Karoline Gable, Anthony Shuster, Daniel Stewart and Howard Ward. Further casting will be announced

(c) Paul Nicholas Dyke

Doubt, A Parable, directed by Ché Walker, is to get its first London revival in 10 years at Southwark Playhouse from Wednesday 6 September to Saturday 30 September, and features Stella Gonet in the epic role of Sister Aloysius Beauvier.

She’s joined by Clare Latham, Jo Martin and Jonathan Chambers in what looks to be a production to look forward to in the autumn..

“What do you do when you’re not sure?” asks Father Flynn, the progressive and beloved priest at the St. Nicholas Church School in the Bronx, in his sermon. It’s 1964, and things are changing, to the chagrin of rigid principal Sister Aloysius. However, when an unconscionable accusation is levelled against the Father, Sister Aloysius realises that the only way to get justice is to create it herself. And as for the truth of the matter? As Father Flynn says, “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.” In stunning prose, John Patrick Shanley delves into the murky shadows of moral certainty, his characters always balancing on the thin line between truth and consequences.

Doubt, A Parable is an exquisite, potent drama that raises questions and answer none, leaving the audience to grapple with the discomfort of their uncertainties.

The 2016 fosterIAN awards

Pleasures were few and far between in 2016…

Round-up of the 2016 fosterIANs

Best Actress in a Play
Juliet Stevenson/Lia Williams, Mary Stuart

Best Actress in a Musical
Jenna Russell, Grey Gardens

Best Actor in a Play
O-T Fagbenle, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actor in a Musical
Louis Maskell, The Grinning Man

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Jade Anouka, The Tempest

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Jennifer Saayeng, Ragtime

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Peter Polycarpou, Scenes from 68* Years

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Julian Bleach, The Grinning Man

And my top 10 plays of the year:

1 Mary Stuart
2 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
3 Minefield
4 Escaped Alone
5 A Raisin in the Sun
6 Pink Mist
7 Steel Magnolias
8 The Grinning Man
9 Jess and Joe Forever
10 BU21

2016 Best Supporting Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Supporting Actor in a Play

Peter Polycarpou, Scenes from 68* Years
In the midst of a heartbreaking play (by Hannah Khalil), Polycarpou’s contributions to the multi-stranded narrative were more heartbreaking than most – agonisingly, beautifully evoking the Palestinian struggle in the most heartfelt way.

Honourable mention: Anthony Boyle, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
We may be being urged to #keepthesecrets, but there’s no mystery that Boyle has been the breakout star of Cursed Child as Scorpius Malfoy, especially when the homoerotic undertones are more like overtones in the first part.

Rudi Dharmalingam, Mary Stuart
Dex Lee, Father Comes Home From The War (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
Nick Fletcher, The Deep Blue Sea
Jonjo O’Neill, Unreachable
Alan Williams, Mary Stuart

Robert Hazle, Home Chat; Tobias Menzies, Uncle Vanya; Paul Thornley, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical

Julian Bleach, The Grinning Man
As the Machiavellian manservant Barkilphedro, Bleach was deliciously arch throughout this captivating show and as his grasping ambitions brought him to the centre of the action, it was hard not to be slightly seduced by his awfulness.

Honourable mention: Tyrone Huntley, Jesus Christ Superstar
In an extraordinarily good company revitalising Lloyd Webber, Huntley was a stellar presence alongside Declan Bennett’s Jesus, a real thorn in his side. But now he’s firmly ensconced in Dreamgirls, will he be joining the shows return to the Open Air next summer?

Adam J Bernard, Dreamgirls
Daniel Crossley, Sweet Charity
Stuart Neal, The Grinning Man
Dominic Tighe, She Loves Me
Gary Tushaw, Ragtime

Peter Caulfield, Jesus Christ Superstar; Michael Esper, Lazarus; Thomas Howes, The Wind in the Willows

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Marianne Elliott wasted no time in making headlines twice over last week – after the announcenement of her departure from the National Theatre, it was officially been announced that she has teamed up with theatre producer Chris Harper to set up Elliott Harper Productions which will produce new work throughout 2017. The first play in the season will be Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg which will be directed by Elliott and run at a yet-to-be confirmed venue in Autumn 2017. This will be followed by Oedipus to Antigone in a new adaptation by Yael Farber who will also direct. 

But the highlight of the season looks set to be a modern revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical Company which will see the glorious Rosalie Craig take on the role of Bobbie, in a gender-reversed version of the musical about a confirmed bachelor that has been specially approved by Sondheim, once again directed by Elliott.
Not much else is known about the production or even the season, but watch this space!

Though it may feel that the world needs another production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream like it needs a Trump presidency, Joe Hill-Gibbins is sure to make it one to remember at the Young Vic. And predictably, he’s got a great looking cast to help him. Announced so far are:
Michael Gould as Oberon,
Anastasia Hille as Titania
Leo Bill as Bottom.
John Dagleish as Lysander and
Jemima Rooper as Hermia
Oliver Alvin-Wilson as Demetrius
Anna Madeley as Helena
and Matthew Steer as Peter Quince.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream starts on 16th February 2017.

Casting news coming thick and fast – the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s production of Christmas Carol – The Musical has also revealed its cast. Tackling the Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens’ hit Broadway show will be:

Robert Lindsay as Scrooge
John Addison as Fred Anderson
Madalena Alberto as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Carrie Hope Fletcher as Emily
Giovanna Fletcher as Mrs Cratchit
Hugh Maynard as the Ghost of Christmas Present
Peter Polycarpou as Mr Fezziwig
and Norman Bowman as Jacob Marley.

The concert will take place on 19th December at the Lyceum Theatre.

Whoopi Goldberg is to perform her stand up show Whoopi Goldberg – Stand Up Live! for the first time in the UK. The Sister Act actress will appear on stage at the London Palladium for one night on 11 February 2017. I got to see her in the musical version of Sister Act in her brief run at the same venue but her stand-up promises to be something else entirely.

The musical version of Fantastic Mr Fox is about to open at Southampton’s Nuffield, ahead of a London run at the Lyric Hammersmith from late January, and there’s a first look at some of the songs in with this interview with composer Arthur Darvill.