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Mark Strong and Helen McCrory scoop Critics’ Circle Theatre awards

Mark Strong (pictured) and Helen McCrory won the main acting prizes at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Mark Strong and Helen McCrory have won the acting prizes at this year’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, with awards also presented to Chichester Festival Theatre’s revival of Gypsy and Antony Sher.

Strong won the best actor award for his role in A View from the Bridge, which played originally at the Young Vic Theatre and will transfer to Wydham’s Theatre in February. The play’s director, Ivo van Hove, scooped the prize for best director.

Collecting his prize, Strong said: “I haven’t won a lot of awards. I’ve been nominated for a few, but I’ve always been one of those people who thought awards aren’t the yardstick of good work. I’ve changed my mind now.”

He also praised Van Hove as well as the writing of Arthur Miller – describing him as “one of our greatest playwrights”.

McCrory won the best actress prize for Medea at the National Theatre, while the Almeida Theatre’s production of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III took the best new play award. The theatre also won this prize last year, for Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica.

Sher won the award for best Shakespearean performance, in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Henry IV parts I and II, which originated at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and has just completed a run at the Barbican in London.

The actor revealed he almost turned down his award-winning role as Falstaff because he could not see himself as the “iconic” character.

He added: “That became the challenge in itself. I’ve always prided myself on being a character actor, which means transforming yourself completely. And I realised I was being offered the greatest challenge for a character actor that there is, because I would have to change my body, voice voice, my whole inner energy to become him. So it became a great journey.”

Gypsy, which originated in Chichester last year and moves to the West End in March, took the award for best musical.

Other winners included playwright Barney Norris, who was named most promising playwright for Visitors, and actor Patsy Ferran, who was named most promising newcomer.

The awards were formed in 1989 and winners are chosen by critics working in theatre, who cast votes based on personal choice.

Additional reporting: David Hutchison

The winners in full:

Best new play: King Charles III by Mike Bartlett
Almeida Theatre, followed by transfer to Wyndham’s Theatre, London

The Peter Hepple award for best musical [new or revival]: Gypsy
Chichester Festival Theatre, followed by 2015 transfer to Savoy Theatre, London

Best actor: Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge
Young Vic Theatre, London, followed by 2015 transfer to Wyndham’s Theatre, London

Best actress: Helen McCrory in Medea
Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre, London

The John and Wendy Trewin award for best Shakespearean performance: Antony Sher in Henry IV Parts I and II
Royal Shakespeare Company at Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, regional tour and Barbican Theatre, London

Best director: Ivo van Hove for A View from the Bridge
Young Vic Theatre, London, followed by 2015 transfer to Wyndham’s Theatre, London in February

Best Designer (awarded jointly): Es Devlin for The Nether and Paul Barritt for Golem
The Nether: Headlong Theatre at Royal Court Theatre, London, with a transfer to Duke of York’s Theatre, London from January
Golem: 1927 at Young Vic Theatre, London

Most Promising Playwright: Barney Norris for Visitors
Up in Arms regional tour and Arcola Theatre, London, followed by transfer to the Bush Theatre, London

The Jack Tinker award for most promising newcomer [other than a playwright]: Patsy Ferran in Blithe Spirit and Treasure Island
Gielgud Theatre, London and Olivier Theatre at the National, London

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