Sir Alan Ayckbourn has been named Playwright of the Year for his play Things We Do For Love which will open in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre 3 March, following its premiere last May at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
Things We Do For Love, Ayckbourn's 52nd play, follows a landlady who rents out a flat to a friend and her fiance, only to fall in love with the fiance herself. The West End production will star Jane Asher, TV actress whose stage appearances include The Shallow End at the Royal Court.
Runners-up for the Playwright of the Year Award were Conor McPherson for The Weir, about to receive another run at the Royal Court, and Patrick Marber for Closer which closes this week at the National. Other nominees for this year's prize were: April De Angelis, Helen Blakeman, Martin Crimp, Mike Cullen, Martin McDonagh and Sir Tom Stoppard.
The Playwright of the Year Award, sponsored by Lloyds Private Banking since its launch in 1994, bestows the winner with a cheque for £25,000 and a specially commissioned Award Trophy. The runners-up also receive trophies. The 1997 awards were presented in a lunchtime ceremony by theatre director Sir Peter Hall.
Judging is done by a panel of leading theatre critics who vote by secret ballot on the final shortlist of ten. The panel this year described Ayckbourn's latest as a superbly constructed, emotionally stirring masterpiece. -- By Terri Paddock
Web Editor, What's On Stage