Jez Butterworth’s acclaimed new play The Ferryman has been showered with plaudits at the prestigious 63rd Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
To the audience’s clear delight, The Ferryman took the highest honours for Best Play and Best Director (Sam Mendes), while Tom Glynn-Carney was crowned Best Emerging Talent for his role as Shane Corcoran.
The Ferryman, which is supported by Bruno Wang Productions, has been described as “a shattering feast of intricate story-telling”. Based on the disappearance of Eugene Simmons – whose niece Laura Donnelly was nominated for Best Actress as Caitlin Carney – the story explores loyalty, love and loss in Ireland during the 1980s.
Other notable winners included Best Actress for Glenda Jackson (King Lear at the Old Vic) and Best Actor for Andrew Garfield (Angels in America at the National’s Lyttelton).
Two other Bruno Wang productions also received 2017 Evening Standard Theatre Awards. American actress Amber Riley (Glee) was honoured for her role in Dreamgirls (Best Musical Performance) and Bunny Christie won Best Design for Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle.
After the ceremony, critics revealed why the winners had been picked. Writing in the Evening Standard, Henry Hitchings said: “Even before it opened in May, Jez Butterworth’s new play was a hit – the fastest-selling show in the history of the Royal Court. Set at harvest time in rural Northern Ireland in 1981, it’s a busy domestic drama tinged with whimsy and nostalgia. Yet it’s also a grand vision of the power of myth and the long shadows of the past, rippling with symbolism.
“Butterworth creates appealing characters with troubling backgrounds but what’s most striking is the intricacy with which their stories are woven together. At the heart of the play is a rich sense of the knottiness of family life – the tangled humanity of people throbbing with repressed desire, haunted by loss and torn by divided loyalties.”
Sarah Crompton praised Bunny Christie as “a designer in her prime. She uses the stage to create whole worlds but makes those spaces reflect the intellectual and emotional development of the play. Both metaphorical and naturalistic, her designs are full of saturated colour and powerful structures. They add a meaning to the action. They are also stunningly beautiful.”
Amber Riley’s award was won against fierce competition, the Evening Standard revealed, including Janie Dee, Peter Forbes, Imelda Staunton, Philip Quast and Tracie Bennett. But, says Baz Bamigboye, “Riley was perfect. She simply soared. I caught her several times during her 12-month run in London, and I will treasure those memories for ever.”