It’s the role that keeps on yielding gongs, for one actress at least. Having already picked up the Olivier, Bafta and Oscar statuettes for her two portrayals of the Queen, Dame Helen Mirren has added a prize at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards to her haul.
After reprising the royal character she took on in The Queen in 2006 – this time meeting a procession of Prime Ministers in The Audience – Dame Helen received the Natasha Richardson Award for best actress at London’s Savoy Hotel on Sunday night.
Dame Helen said: "They loved it but they were loving the Queen really they're not really loving me. It's her and that incredible history. She's the one person who's been in my life the longest apart from my sister. It's amazing to be a part of that."
At the glitzy event hosted by Homeland star Damian Lewis, she saw off competition from Kristin Scott-Thomas and Billie Piper.
In a surprise move, Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear shared the award for best actor after playing opposite each other in the acclaimed production of Othello at the National Theatre. The pair, who played Othello and Iago respectively at the South Bank site, were up against Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played campaigner Patrick Lumumba in the Young Vic’s A Season in the Congo.
However, Othello was beaten to the title of best play by Chimerica. Written by Lucy Kirkwood, the production followed US-China relations in the tale of a fictional US photojournalist seeking the subject of the iconic “tank man” photograph from the protests in Tiananmen Square.
In the battle of National Theatre directors past, present and future in the best director category, Richard Eyre triumphed for Ghosts, the revival of the Ibsen play at the Almeida Theatre.
Eyre, the National director from 1987 to 1997, withstood the challenge from current director Sir Nicholas Hytner for Othello and Rufus Norris, who will take up the role from 2015, for The Amen Corner.
Jude Law and Sir David Attenborough were among the guests at the annual event, which is now in its 59 year.
Evening Standard Editor Sarah Sands said: "We, like the rest of the world, have been dazzled by the talent on show. It feels important for London's paper to celebrate this significant sector that spills over into other areas of cultural life."
Honorary awards included the theatre icon award for Dame Maggie Smith for her contribution to the world stage.
The London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2013 winners:
Rory Kinnear and Adrian Lester: Othello, National
Helen Mirren: The Audience, Gielgud
Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood, Almeida & Harold Pinter
Merrily We Roll Along Menier Chocolate Factory & Harold Pinter
Richard Eyre: Ghosts, Almeida
Bob Crowley: People, National (Lyttelton) & The Audience, Gielgud & Once, Phoenix
Most Promising Playwright
Rachel De-lahay: Routes, Royal Court
Seth Numrich: Sweet Bird of Youth, Old Vic
Best Musical Performance
Rosalie Craig: The Light Princess, National
Cush Jumbo: Josephine and I, Bush
Award for Comedy
BBC Proms 2013
Lebedev Special Award
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Theatre Icon Award
Dame Maggie Smith