The 1997 winners of the ninth annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards were announced yesterday. In a scene reminiscent of the Evening Standard Drama Awards ceremony in November, the Royal National Theatre made a dramatic sweep.
Former RNT artistic director Sir Richard Eyre won Best Director for his productions of King Lear and Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love - an accolade Eyre also won at the Evening Standard Drama Awards in November. Ian Holm also won Best Actor for King Lear, as he did at the Evening Standard ceremony.
Dame Judi Dench won Best Actress for her role in the RNT production of David Hare's Amy's View which has now transferred to the Aldwych Theatre. John Napier won Best Designer for the RNT's Christmas showing of Peter Pan, starring Sir Ian McKellen.
Best New Play was awarded to Patrick Marber's Closer which has just closed at the National and is now readying for a West End transfer to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. Star of the show, Liza Walker, who will be transferring with the production, won Most Promising Newcomer for her Closer role.
Amongst non-RNT wins, Chicago scooped Best Musical and Conor McPherson received Most Promising Playwright for his play The Weir at the Royal Court Theatre. The awards were presented by theatre critics from major UK newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, the Guardian, the Times, the Evening Standard and the Mail on Sunday. The Critics' Circle Awards are for plays presented in London. The event was sponsored for the sixth year by The Stage newspaper. The Critics' Circle was founded in 1913 and encompasses drama, music, film and ballet.