David Lister: Subsidised theatre receives a timely boost

Spare a thought for the losers. Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical drew a blank at last night's ceremony, a rarity for him. Television's Poirot, David Suchet, must wait another year for an Olivier, despite a fine performance in Arthur Miller's All My Sons. Derek Jacobi's towering and desperately moving King Lear was also beaten.

But who could argue with these winners? Roger Allam deserved the best actor award, his Falstaff at the Globe bringing out the poignancy and submerged dignity of the character that lies behind the buffoonery. Sheridan Smith has now officially risen. And it's good to see the National winning more than one award, including Nancy Carroll for best actress, for a Terence Rattigan revival in the playwright's centenary year. Would it be churlish to lament the many years that the great English playwright was ignored by England's National Theatre?

At the Royal Court, Clybourne Park is rightly awarded as best new play for its piercing look at lingering racial prejudice in society.The subsidised sector overall did notably well with a large clutch of awards for the National, the Royal Court and Donmar, something the theatre world will want to trumpet in the face of cuts to the arts.

But while praising a great year for subsidised theatre, let's not overlook the audience award for most popular show, chosen by the listeners of BBC Radio 2. It goes to the Queen musical We Will Rock You, famously slated by the critics when it opened, but still packing them in every night. It shows how popular opinion can be totally at variance with that of the critics.

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