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Young Vic completes hat-trick at Critics’ Circle Awards

Hattie Morahan, Young Vic artistic director David Lan and designer Miriam Buether. Photo: Eliza Power
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London’s Young Vic theatre has completed a hat-trick of wins at the 2012 Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in a year that saw subsidised venues pick up all but one of the prizes.

The venue was recognised with best actress for Hattie Morahan in A Doll’s House and best director for Benedict Andrews’ production of Three Sisters, as well as best designer for Mirian Buether’s work in Wild Swans.

David Lan, artistic director of the Young Vic, told The Stage: “When people appreciate our work in the way they have done with these shows – all of which sold out, one of which we are bringing back and one that we extended – of course it’s great.”

He added: “To receive these awards from critics is helpful. One of the things the critics do is create confidence in a piece of work. There are some other ways of creating that confidence – partly the reputation of the theatre and partly the reputation of the actors. Not many people think too much about the directors but they’ll also think about the writers.

“One of the ways you try and talk to your audience is say ‘it’s not too big a risk’ or ‘it’s worth taking a risk on’ and what the critics can do when they write about a show is create that confidence in it.”

Morahan, who was recognised for her role as Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, said it meant “a great deal” to get such a positive reaction to the show.

Elsewhere, the National Theatre recorded two wins – one for Lucy Prebble’s The Effect in the best new play category and the other for Timon of Athens, in which Simon Russell Beale received the award for best Shakespearean performance.

For the first time a special award was presented to Shakespeare’s Globe to recognise its work in creating the multilingual Globe to Globe Festival as part of the London Olympic cultural celebrations. The season featured 37 international companies, which each perform a Shakespeare play in their native language.

Tom Bird, director of the Globe to Globe festival, said: “London can still be a bit of a theatre bubble that creates theatre by Londoners for Londoners sometimes a bit too much, so it was great to be able to open up our theatre to the whole world and a large scale of companies.”

He added: “There was a huge amount of excitement about the festival before we did it because it was so ambitious – and everyone said we were crazy for doing it.

Asked if he would orchestrate a similar festival again, Bird said: “It was a massive logistical undertaking and we had help from the Cultural Olympiad organisers, so we are not in the imminent future planning anything on that scale.”

Meanwhile, Adrian Lester received the award for best actor for his performance as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet at the Tricycle Theatre, alongside his wife, Lolita Chakrabarti, who was named most promising playwright for the same play.

The awards were presented by theatre critics at a ceremony at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre on January 15 in association with Nyman Libson Paul chartered accountants.

The Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2012 in full are:

Best new play: The Effect by Lucy Prebble (Cottesloe, National Theatre in a co-production with Headlong)

The Peter Hepple Award for best musical (new or revival): Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory, London)

Best actor: Adrian Lester in Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre, London)

Best actress: Hattie Morahan in A Doll’s House (Young Vic, London)

The John and Wendy Trewin Award for best Shakespearean performance: Simon Russell Beale in Timon of Athens (Olivier, National Theatre)

Best director: Benedict Andrews for Three Sisters (Young Vic, London)

Best designer: Miriam Buether for Wild Swans (Young Vic, London, in a co-production with American Repertory Theater and Actors Touring Company)

Most promising playwright: Lolita Chakrabarti for Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre, London)

The Jack Tinker Award for most promising newcomer (other than a playwright): Denise Gough for Desire Under the Elms (Lyric Hammersmith, London)

Special Award: Shakespeare’s Globe for Globe to Globe

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