Critics Circle Theatre Awards turn 25 as Chimerica prevails.

Critics Circle Theatre Awards
Lesley Manville and Lenny Henry at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards

Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards 2013 took place on Tuesday 28 January 2014, at the Prince of Wales Theatre, celebrating the 25th anniversary of these unique awards. Hosted by Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chairman Mark Shenton, with regular guest speaker comedian Arthur Smith introducing proceedings, the ceremony is firmly established as a highlight of the theatrical calendar and, this year, marks a quarter of a century of recognising the best in British Theatre.

Since the Awards’ inception in 1989 the theatre critics, have lauded the finest talent working in the UK theatre industry, as well as recognizing emerging talent; Sam Mendes, Rachel Weisz, Eddie Redmayne and Chiwetel Ejiofor have all been recipients of the Most Promising Newcomer award, before going on to receive their international acclaim.

Mark Shenton, Chairman, The Drama Section, said: “The British theatre has gone through a profound change in the last quarter of a century, just as the critics who have covered it are even now going through a huge one, too, in the ways in which they are employed and where their work appears. But the one thing that hasn’t changed, by either the writers or those they are writing about, is the quality of the work that’s under scrutiny. In a world in which everyone’s now a critic as long as they have a Twitter or Facebook account to express their opinions through, or can vote in public awards at the click of a mouse, professional critics are more important than ever to set the benchmarks of excellence and a context for it to be judged within. So as the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards mark their 25th anniversary, there’s no better time to reflect on how these, the only independently judged awards that are entirely free of outside influences, offer a unique barometer of the changing power structures and achievements of the British theatre.

And against all the odds, there’s simply more theatre being produced than ever before, which means critics play an important role as guides and challengers to audiences for what to see. These awards confirm just how vital and alive the theatre is. Here’s to the next 25 years.”

For the 10th year, the main sponsors of the awards are entertainment accountants Nyman Libson Paul, who have a long association with British theatre and whose clients currently include several West End and touring productions. Partner Anthony Pins said: “We are delighted to continue our support of these awards. To us, they are unique. They celebrate the best talent in British theatre, measured through the sharpest eyes in the house – the critics.

The Awards are supported by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.


Most Promising Playwright : Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag (awarded jointly)

Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Soho Theatre, London award presented to Phoebe Waller-Bridge by Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

Most Promising Playwright : Rory Kinnear for The Herd (awarded jointly)

Bush Theatre, London award presented to Rory Kinnear by Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer [other than a playwright] : Kate O’Flynn in Port

Lyttelton Theatre at the National, London award presented to Kate O’Flynn by Maxie Szalwinska, Sunday Times

Best Designer : Es Devlin for Chimerica

Almeida Theatre, London, followed by transfer to Harold Pinter Theatre, London

Award presented to Es Devlinby Simon Edge, Daily Express

Best Director : Lyndsey Turner for Chimerica

Almeida Theatre, London, followed by transfer to Harold Pinter Theatre, London

award presented to Lyndsey Turner by Jane Edwardes, Sunday TImes

The John and Wendy Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance : Rory Kinnear in Othello

Olivier Theatre at the National, London

Award presented to tbc by Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

Best Actress : Lesley Manville in Ghosts

Almeida Theatre, London, followed by transfer to Trafalgar Studios, London

award presented to Lesley Manville by Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph

Best Actor : Lenny Henry in Fences

Theatre Royal Bath and tour, followed by transfer to Duchess Theatre, London

Award presented to Lenny Henry by Dominic Maxwell, The Times

The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical [new or revival] : The Scottsboro Boys

Young Vic Theatre, London award presented to Catherine Schreiber (producer)& David Lan (Artistic Director, Young Vic Theatre)by Heather Neill, freelance

Best New Play : Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood

Almeida Theatre, London, followed by transfer to Harold Pinter Theatre, London

Award presented to Lucy Kirkwood by Michael Billington, The Guardian

The C


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