Ground-breaking, risk-taking theatre dominated the 2019 Olivier Awards with The Inheritance and Company, both supported by Bruno Wang Productions, scooping four each.
The Inheritance won awards for Best New Play, Best Actor, Best Lighting and the Sir Peter Hall Award for Best Director. The honours recognised the significance of this seminal play, which explores the legacy of the Aids crisis on the modern gay community.
Matthew Lopez wrote The Inheritance in two parts, which together last seven hours. He has described the ambitious project as akin to writing a Netflix series for the theatre.
Company won for Best Musical Revival, Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Set Design.
The show was originally staged in 1970 with a male protagonist, but director Marianne Elliott brought the story into the 21st century and swapped the lead for a female. Her decision paid off with a sold-out run in the West End.
Receiving the award for Best Musical Revival, Elliott acknowledged how lucky she was to have been able to reinvigorate the play. She said: “I want to thank Stephen Sondheim who was so open to allowing us to meddle with this piece and who believes that theatre can change and evolve and should be of – and for – the times.”
Summer and Smoke by Tennessee Williams won awards for Best Revival and Best Actress for Patsy Ferran.
The Guardian calls Ferran “one of Britain’s most exciting actors” and lauded the unusual setting, which saw a circular sandy pit ringed by nine pianos, creating an extraordinary atmosphere.
Best Entertainment and Family went to A Monster Calls.