She's British and the toast of Broadway. Can you name her?

She's Bryony Lavery, since you ask. And she's up for four awards at theatre's 'Oscars'
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The Independent Culture

A British playwright who has taken Broadway by storm with a play about child murder, is tonight shortlisted in New York for four Tony awards, the theatrical equivalent of an Oscar.

A British playwright who has taken Broadway by storm with a play about child murder, is tonight shortlisted in New York for four Tony awards, the theatrical equivalent of an Oscar.

Yorkshire-born Bryony Lavery, 56, is little known outside theatrical circles, but her harrowing play Frozen has won huge acclaim in the United States.

The production, which has catapulted Ms Lavery into the spotlight, examines the effect of a child's murder by a paedophile on the victim's family. Among the haul of nominations is one for prized title of best play.

British hopes are heightened with the inclusion of William Nicholson in the same best play category for The Retreat from Moscow. His play is up for three awards. He was previously nominated for a Tony in 1991 for Shadowlands.

Frozen has been embraced by audiences and critics during its New York run, with the New York Times calling it a "beautifully acted, carefully considered production".

In the play, which examines themes of forgiveness and guilt, 10-year-old Rhona disappears on the way to her grandmother's house. Her remains and those of other children are found years later in a shed belonging to a loner, later jailed for his crimes. Twenty years after the original disappearance, the child's mother, Nancy - by then a campaigner for the rights of victims - confronts the killer.

Ms Lavery said she was wary of getting too excited about her Tony prospects. "Nominations are always nice but you have to be careful about wishing to want it. I don't want to sob big splashy tears of disappointment."

The play was well received when first staged by Birmingham Rep in 1998, and the then artistic director of the National Theatre in London, Sir Trevor Nunn, was immediately keen to stage a transfer of the play.

Scheduling difficulties meant it did not take place until four years later, but the same cast - former EastEnders star Anita Dobson, Josie Lawrence and Tom Georgeson - was reunited, again to plaudits.

The Broadway run began this year with a US cast.

Sir Trevor said: "Bryony is a very daring writer. She takes the most difficult subjects and she confronts them head on, but the writing is wonderfully spare and wonderfully poetic ... and because of that it becomes very emotional. She doesn't appear to set out to write anything that is emotionally appealing, but it just gets under your defences."

As well as the best play nomination, Frozen is up for best leading actress, best direction and best supporting actor titles.

Ms Lavery said: "People say it's a great play but difficult subject matter. I'd been reading lots of these great thrillers like Silence of the Lambs about fiendishly clever serial killers. I thought they're great, but I don't believe serial killers are that smart. It's the polar opposite of a creative act. It's miserable.

"Everybody thinks it's a story about a paedophile, but it's about two women overcoming the worst thing imaginable. It's a brave heroine story.

"When I see people watching the show I'm not surprised they're very moved by it. But I wouldn't particularly want to go to see a play about someone who loses a child. I'd rather go and see The Boy from Oz [the Broadway show about the entertainer Peter Allen]."

Among Ms Lavery's forthcoming productions is a new youth theatre production Discontented Winter: House Remix at the National Theatre in July, and she will work on a version of Dracula for the McCarter Theatre at Princeton University this month.

Two Britons doing battle for the Tony best actor award are Christopher Plummer (for King Lear) and Simon Russell Beale (Jumpers).

Eileen Atkins competes for best actress in The Retreat from Moscow.

Alfred Molina is nominated in the musical acting category for his performance in Fiddler on the Roof.

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