Theatre: Curtain calls

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The Independent Culture
Despite the Evening Standard's trumpeting of their own prizes, the Oliviers are theatre's most prestigious awards. But for years now, there have been rumblings about them from inside the business. Then, last year, the excrement hit the Expelair when, unbelievably, the panel failed to give Best Choreography to Chicago. If ever there'd been a dead cert, that was it. The winner was Simon McBurney, director of The Caucasian Chalk Circle - not even a musical. A preposterous decision. Yes, he and his actors created great staging, in which case he should have won Best Director. "Oh, but we can't do that," they must have bleated, "we want to give that to Richard Eyre." Fair enough, but unless you make tough choices based on true excellence, then everything becomes debased and you end up with meaningless hand-outs based on horse-trading. As for this year's gongs, aside from Oklahoma! nabbing nine nominations, could we discuss David Hare's Best Play nod for The Blue Room (above)? I'm sure the panel's regular theatregoers and unnamed "professionals" (no critics to help analyse anything) were thrilled at being able to get into the most hyped event of this or any other season, but as far as I'm aware, The Blue Room is a version of Schnitzler's La Ronde. If I were David Hare, I'd be pleased, but ever so slightly embarrassed.

David Benedict