Olivier Awards 2014: Chimerica the big winner on UK theatre's big night

 

Arts Correspondent

The hit play about a photographer’s search for the Tiananmen Square “tank man” was the big winner at the most prestigious awards ceremony of the UK’s theatre calendar.

Chimerica, which had a sell-out run at the Almeida Theatre before transferring to the West End, landed five awards at the 38th Oliver Awards last night, including best new play.

Olivier Awards: Winners list in full

Blockbuster American show The Book of Mormon dominated the musical categories, winning four awards including best new musical.

Chimerica, the play written by Lucy Kirkwood, secured the best director award for Lyndsey Turner and best set design for ES Devlin. The production also shared the lighting design and sound awards.

Ms Turner hailed the “dedication of the crew and as talented and heroic a bunch of actors that it has ever been my privilege to work with”.

The fictional story follows photographer Joe Schofield to discover the lone protester who stood in front of the tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square in 1989. The title refers to China and America and the play deals with broader themes to do with the relationship between the two superpowers.

 

It was a big night for the Almeida, as another of the north London theatre’s transfers Ghosts, won three Oliviers including best revival and star Lesley Manville was awarded best actress. Jack Lowden won best actor in a supporting role.

Ms Manville said: “I’m completely and utterly over the moon; I’m fizzing with delight.” She hailed the Almeida saying: “Subsidised theatre by its very nature can take risks, and the Almeida does that brilliantly.”

Richard Eyre, the director of Ghosts who also wrote the adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play, said: “I distilled the original play; I didn’t consciously try and update it. I tried to find a language for it that was not stuck in the 19th century,” adding: “It’s just a staggering piece of writing.”

The best actor was awarded to Rory Kinnear, for his portrayal as Iago in the National Theatre’s production of Othello. He shared the Evening Standard Theatre Award for best actor with his co-star Adrian Lester. Rory Kinnear, left, winner of Best Actor for 'Othello', and Lesley Manville, winner of Best Actress for 'Ghosts' Rory Kinnear, left, winner of Best Actor for 'Othello', and Lesley Manville, winner of Best Actress for 'Ghosts'

Mr Kinnear said: “Adrian brought the heart to it. Iago is the absence of heart and Othello has to jump off the top of the mountain to the dark pit at the bottom. Iago is thrashing around there from the beginning.”

The two outgoing heads of the National, Sir Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr were also handed a special award after more than a decade in charge.

The Book of Mormon’s four awards included best actor for Gavin Creel and best supporting actor for Stephen Ashfield and best theatre choreographer for Casey Nicholaw.

The musical, written by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and playing at the Prince of Wales Theatre, won nine Tony awards in the US and dominated the Whatsonsstage Awards.

The American religious satire was named the most in-demand ticket in London’s West End last year beating shows including The Lion King and Les Miserables.

Best actress in a musical went to Zrinka Cvitešić for Once, adapted from an independent film about two musicians, playing at the Phoenix Theatre.

The PG Wodehouse-inspired Jeeves & Wooster In Perfect Nonsense, starring Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen was awarded best new comedy.

The awards show was closed by a performance from ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus to mark 15 years of the musical Mamma Mia! which features the band’s music.

Last year’s awards were dominated by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time receiving a total of seven awards, equalling the record set the previous year by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda the Musical.

Read more: Olivier Awards red carpet in pictures
Rory Kinnear wins Best Actor
The Book of Mormon takes Best New Musical
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before