Boos turn to cheers for playwright Bean as he scoops top drama awards
Dramatist who sparked protests and racism accusations returns to the stage in triumph
Monday 21 November 2011
Two years ago, Richard Bean sparked the National Theatre's first ever onstage protest amid accusations that he had written a racist play. Last night he triumphed at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, winning "Best Play" for not one but two of his works.
The controversy that surrounded England People Very Nice, a satire on immigration, did not deter Mr Bean, a 54-year-old former occupational psychologist and stand-up comedian from Hull, from tackling controversial subjects. One of the plays honoured at the Standard awards night was The Heretic, a black comedy about climate change staged by the Royal Court. The other was One Man, Two Guvnors, a slapstick adaptation of an 18th-century Venetian play starring James Corden that triumphed at the National Theatre and has since moved into the West End. It will open on Broadway next year.
Mr Bean, who wrote his first play in his late 30s and describes himself as a "liberal hawk," was targeted by protesters carrying placards during a discussion about England People Very Nice at the NT in 2009. He defended that play – which attracted critical acclaim as well as anger – saying: "If you can't write about young Bangladeshis – they are English, they were born here – then what you're saying is that a living writer can't write about England."
Meanwhile Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch shared the Best Actor prize for their double act in the National Theatre's production of Frankenstein, in which, under the direction of Oscar winner Danny Boyle, they alternated in the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. The judging panel of theatre critics said it would be "invidious" not to reward both actors, whose performances won rave reviews.
Kristin Scott Thomas, best known for her film work, was recognised with the Lebedev Special Award for her return to the stage in Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the Comedy Theatre, only her fourth British theatrical role.
In the outstanding newcomer category, US actor Kyle Soller beat out his wife Phoebe Fox, whom he met while studying at RADA.
THE WINNERS AND WHAT THE CRITICS SAID ABOUT THEM
Best play (joint)
The Heretic, Royal Court
"Richard Bean is one of drama's most wittily maverick voices" The Independent **** / One Man, Two Guvnors National's Lyttelton
"One of the funniest productions in the National's history"
The Guardian *****
Grief, at the National Theatre's Cottesloe
"Brilliant though it often is, Grief casts a potent pall of desolation that lingers long after the show itself is over" The Telegraph ****
Flare Path, Theatre Royal Haymarket
"Quite stunning... never overdoes the brassiness"
The Guardian ****
Best actor (joint)
Frankenstein, National's Olivier
"A quantum leap for his reputation" The Times ***** / Jonny Lee Miller
"Physically wild, free of the slightest self-consciousness"
The Times *****
Lebedev Special Award
Kristin Scott Thomas
Betrayal, Comedy Theatre
"Heart-breaking here in a performance of exquisitely nuanced emotional vulnerability and pain" The Independent
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 2 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Trevor Noah, Edinburgh Fringe review: New Daily Show host warms up in inspired style
X Factor 2015: Ratings drop almost 2 million compared to last year's launch show
VMAs 2015: Kanye West runs for president, Nicki Minaj calls out Miley Cyrus and the list of winners in full
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms