Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tennant's Shakespearean triumph

David Tennant in Hamlet. Copyright: Ellie Kurtzz/RSC
David Tennant's run as Hamlet was completely sold out in advance

David Tennant's turn as Hamlet has earned him a best Shakespearean performance trophy at the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards.

Tennant took up the role in Stratford-upon-Avon but missed most of the London shows after injuring his back.

His award is shared with Derek Jacobi as Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Judges said it had been a particularly strong year for Shakespearean performances.

Kenneth Branagh took the award for best male performance for Ivanov.

Stellar year

Branagh earned rave reviews when the Chekhov play opened in a new adaptation by Sir Tom Stoppard, with one critic saying the actor was "beyond praise" in the role.

Figures released recently showed London theatre attendance was at an all-time high last year, partly driven by star names like Tennant and Branagh in classic roles.

Michael Grandage was awarded best director for Ivanov and also, in a busy year for him, for his production of The Chalk Garden.

Margaret Tyzack who played Mrs St Maugham in The Chalk Garden won best actress.

Her achievement meant the Donmar Warehouse, home to the productions of Twelfth Night, The Chalk Garden and Ivanov swept the board.

In the best musical category, La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory was triumphant. The production has since transferred to the Playhouse Theatre, London, and stars Graham Norton.

Graham Norton as Albin
Graham Norton helped earn La Cage aux Folles its award

New talent

Ella Smith, 25, took the best newcomer honours for her role as the self-deprecating overweight girlfriend in Neil LaBute's Fat Pig.

Alexi Kaye Campbell, who only recently took up writing after a long career as an actor, won most promising playwright for his first work The Pride.

Aside from La Cage aux Folles, Brief Encounter is the only other award winner which can still be seen by audiences.

The Kneehigh Theatre's show is based on David Lean's classic film and makes innovative use of live camera and audience interaction.

Neil Murray took the best designer award for the production which began at the site of the original film's premiere - the Cinema Haymarket, London. The play is now on tour around the country.

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SEE ALSO
Five-star Branagh wows West End
18 Sep 08 |  Entertainment
Record year for West End theatre
26 Jan 09 |  Entertainment
Tennant out of Hamlet for surgery
10 Dec 08 |  Entertainment

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