Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Rachel Weisz and Jude Law win Critics' Circle awards

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Rachel Weisz and Jude Law
Weisz and Law collected their awards in person at the London event

Britain's Rachel Weisz has been named best actress at this year's Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for appearing in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Mark Rylance was named best actor for Jerusalem, while Jude Law accepted the best Shakespearean performance prize for playing the title role in Hamlet.

Musical Spring Awakening, which ran for a short time in the West End last year, picked up the best musical accolade.

This year's awards were handed out at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

The event coincided with the final South Bank Show Awards, where Weisz and Rylance were also honoured.

'Most discerning'

Oscar-winner Weisz received her prize for playing fading beauty Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Critics' Circle previously named her most promising newcomer in 1994 for her work in Noel Coward's Design for Living, staged at the same central London theatre.

Mark Rylance and Jez Butterworth
Rylance (l) and Butterworth were both recognised for Jerusalem

"The London critics are the toughest and most discerning critics in the world," said Weisz, adding that Streetcar had been "a thrilling, exhilarating experience".

"It really means a huge amount to me that they're giving me this award - I'm very grateful and proud."

Law, who appeared with Weisz in the 2001 film Enemy at the Gates, was equally gratified to be recognised for Hamlet, a Donmar production that played at London's Wyndham's Theatre before transferring to Broadway.

"This came as a huge surprise and means an incredible amount to me," said the 37-year-old.

Rylance, though, was more circumspect as he collected his best award for Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, which also bagged the prize for best new play.

Instead of delivering a traditional acceptance speech, the 50-year-old amused the gathering with a parable about a man who catches a large fish.

Satirical

Butterworth's triumph followed his earlier win for most promising playwright in 1995 for Mojo.

It comes at the same time as the West End transfer of Jerusalem, a contemporary vision of rural England in which Rylance plays a charismatic gypsy.

Rupert Goold, who won best director in 2007 for his production of Macbeth, received the same prize again for Enron.

The man hung the fish on the wall of his new apartment. The fish looked huge... He couldn't imagine he'd ever caught so big a fish
Mark Rylance

The play, a satirical depiction of the US financial giant's collapse, also moves to the West End this month following an acclaimed season last year at London's Royal Court.

Other awards went to designer Christopher Oram for Red, a play about artist Mark Rothko currently running at the Donmar.

Alia Bano was named most promising playwright, while Tom Sturridge - seen last year in The Boat That Rocked - won the most promising newcomer award.

Last year's winners included Kenneth Branagh, Margaret Tyzack and Doctor Who actor David Tennant, recognised - like Law - for his portrayal of Hamlet.

The Critics' Circle Film Awards will be held in London on 18 February.



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