Monday, 20 February 2012

What's On Stage?

... Errr... well... nothing,  according to critic Michael Coveney, or nothing worth seeing anyway. This interview being one of the low points at last night’s awards (or high points depending on how sadistic your viewpoint is)

If you didn’t see it, because you were actually there enjoying the live performances that those of us watching online weren’t privy too, I’m sure you’ve already heard about it. Yes, perhaps he was slightly intoxicated but for a renowned theatre critic who writes for themselves to not be able to pull his thoughts together at an awards ceremony for the very industry he critiques is very embarrassing and was horribly cringeworthy to watch.  I wanted to be able to post a link to a clip, for those of you who missed, but rather unsurprisingly there was nothing to be found.

That aside, I found the whole evening a bit disappointing, which seemed to be the general consensus from fellow tweeters. I suppose the problem of having the awards voted for by the theatre goers themselves is that, having not seen all the nominees, most votes go to the popular ones that everyone is familiar with ... hence the reason I don’t vote in these awards – I feel it’s only fair to vote if you can give a well thought out, reasoned, balanced vote having been to see all the nominees... or at least a good proportion of them. Unfortunately, I can’t get to London often enough for that to be the case.

I think this bias towards the more “popular” nominees was demonstrated in the results. Especially when you consider that Amanda Holden won the award for Best Actress in a Musical. I haven’t actually seen any of the actresses nominated, but I have heard so much better things about Caissie Levy, for instance and twittersphere seemed to agree that the Matilda girls should have won it.  

Again, there was outrage on twitter when the Theatre Event of the Year award was given to the reunion of Catherine Tate and David Tennant. This is not an event, the people cried. It seems so unfair that it went to this rather than the Phantom 25th Anniversary, or at the very least, Michael Sheen’s Port Talbot based ‘Passion’ play – both of these being actual events, rather than clever casting decisions.  Maybe this award needs better guidelines as to what constitutes an event.

Another perplexing aspect to the evening seemed to me the decision to employ Alan Davies as a host.  Did this decision happen after asking Sheridan Smith to host because of their connection through Jonathan Creek? At first, his between awards banter was very funny, it has to be said. But as the evening wore on (perhaps again to a slight inebriation) it got slightly irritating and repetitive. The Benedict Cumberbatch joke definitely got to a point where you could hear the slightly awkward laughter of a Sheridan trying to politely move it along. And his excitement at getting to the last few prompt pages of the awards evening was more than just a joke, it seemed. Something tells me he didn’t particularly want to be part of this evening at all.

There were some well received winners though such as 'One Man, Two Govnors', for best new comedy and 'Sweeney Todd' for Best Regional Production. The most notable and well celebrated winner being 'Matilda the Musical', which looked as though it wasn’t going to get its recognition until the end of the evening, where the show swept up Best Choreographer (Peter Darling), Best Newcomer (Tim Minchin), Best Set Designer (Rob Howell) and – the icing on the cake – Best New Musical (and looking at the statistics it won quite comfortably).

I was pleased that those of us who couldn’t attend the ceremony got to share the experience online, even if we had to miss out on the performances – but then, if we had been allowed that privilege we may have missed out on that wonderful interview with Michael Coveney.

To see the results and the corresponding voting statistics, along with pictures from the evening, please go to

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