Tomorrow night sees the stars of the stage descend upon the Royal Opera House for what is arguably the biggest night in England’s (or perhaps more contentiously given the list of nominees – London’s) theatre world: the Laurence Olivier Awards. It will be possible to watch the event live via the red button on the BBC, or listen to Radio 2, from 19:30.
As is often the case the list of nominees make for interesting reading and arguably casts a brighter light on the theatre scene than the list of those who actually win. Rather than going through the complete list of the runners and riders, a quick glance across the categories does raise some interesting talking points.
8 Key Questions
- In what can only be seen as a damning indictment of the non-subsidised West End stomach for risk-taking, the only nominated new play that premièred outside of the subsidised sector was an adaptation of the most famous of all Ealing comedies. Whilst well-received by the critics, is it not possible for a playwright to be allowed to stage new work in the West End (special exemptions for famous Hollywood actor/writers not withstanding)?
- Is it a thin year dramatically? Even the revivals don’t seem to have their usual vim. Hopefully Anna Christie will be recognised for its fine work and it will be up against a strong revival of Rattigan’s Flare Path; a playwright very much in vogue. However Noises Off seems to be a rather populist choice when you consider the fine year the Donmar had with the rarely performed and excellently executed ‘Inadmissable Evidence’ directly following Anna Christie.
- Will London Road be able to withstand the Matilda charge? It lost out to populism at the Evening Standard Awards, and whilst Matilda is a fine and deserving winner in its own right isn’t it time that London Road was recognised for the stunningly brave and unique production it is (and for those who missed it first time, it is coming back to the Olivier this summer – a portent perhaps?)
- Can the Sheridan Smith success story continue? Everyone’s favourite 2 Pints of Lager…breakout star is up for a fairly unique double; after picking up Best Musical Actress at the first time of asking for Legally Blonde, Ms Smith will be hoping to make it two in two years for her fine performance in Flare Path. However competition is tough in a category that also includes Mark Addy, Bryony Hannah and Johnny Flynn; all of whom should be regarded as excellent contenders in their own right.
- Just how many can Matilda win? The remarkable story continues and you don’t fancy anyone coming up against them. Best new musical to edge out London Road? Bertie Cavill is surely a lock-in for Best Actor Musical. Does anyone have the heart to deny the Matilda’s their moment as Best Actress Musical? Paul Kaye could be on shakier ground as he is up against Katherine Kingsley’s Lina Lamont – a scene-stealing role if ever there was one. And after all that there is a raft of technical awards that someone has to win.
- The Best Actress/Best Actor awards seem totally up for grabs. Desperately hope that the double-header Cumberbatch/Lee Miller is overlooked as Frankenstein wasn’t that great. My personal preference would be a Ruth Wilson/Jude Law double for Anna Christie. However Douglas Hodge in Inadmissible Evidence would be a worth winner.
- What is the point, I mean really, what is the point of the BBC Radio 2 Oliver Audience Award when you have to chose between Jersey Boys / Wicked / Les Freakin Mis and Billy Elliot? How about giving us a write-in winner?
- How much more alive does theatre feel when you look at the nominees in Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre? Mogadishu and Roadkill could have been strong contenders in the main categories but here they feel punted to the sidelines.
And finally good luck to all the nominees.