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
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada