Judi Dench (Paulina) and Kenneth Branagh (Leontes)
Judi Dench (Paulina) and Kenneth Branagh (Leontes) in A Winter's Tale
© Johan Persson

Winners of the Critic's Circle Theatre Awards have been announced today at a ceremony held at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Denise Gough scooped Best Actress for her performance in People, Places and Things three years after winning Most Promising Newcomer whilst Kenneth Cranham won Best Actor for his performance in Florian Zeller's sell-out play The Father.

The 71-year-old Cranham said of his win: "It's great to have won the Critics' Circle Award. The last thing I won was in 1968! The Father is coming back to the West End I've done it 171 times, and I will do almost another 100. My speciality is always giving it everything."

At the ceremony Gough, who won the best actress award for her role as an addict in Duncan Macmillan's play, said: "[People, Places and Things] has the possibility of changing people's lives and how great that I'm getting attention for something I'm really proud of.

"I'm under no illusion: our play is transferring because of our amazing reviews as well as word of mouth. I'm very grateful for what it means for this play."

Gough also spoke about the need for gender equality in the arts: "Women are 50 per cent of the population but less than a third of speaking roles in films are women. That's insane. So I'm going about trying to find ways in which we can keep the conversation going which we can inspire change. People are crying out for strong female narratives onstage."

The actress spoke about a new campaign to talk about gender inequality in the arts. Gough was promoting the 50:50 by 2018 campaign which launches at the end of the month.

Other winners include Gurinder Chadha's new musical Bend It Like Beckham and Judi Dench for her performance in Kenneth Branagh's The Winter's Tale.

Chadha said: "I'm so thrilled! We went out on a limb to do [Bend It Like Beckham], we didn't know if it was going to work, it's not easy doing a musical, it's really not easy doing an original musical full of Indian people so really all the odds were stacked against us.

"The film [of Bend It Like Beckham] was 15 years ago, I'm done with the film. I really wanted [the musical] to be something different so Howard Goodall was such a great safe pair of hands to work with."

The Royal Court production of Hangmen picked up two awards, one for Best New Play and the other to Anna Fleischle for Best Designer.

Denise Gough (Emma)
Denise Gough as Emma in People, Places and Things
© Johan Persson

Winners

Best New Play
Hangmen by Martin McDonagh (Royal Court and Wyndham's Theatre)

The Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical [new or revival]
Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre)

Best Actor
Kenneth Cranham in The Father (Bath Theatre Royal Ustinov Studio and Tricycle Theatre, transferring to Wyndham's Theatre and 2016 transfer to Duke of York's Theatre)

Best Actress
Denise Gough in People, Places and Things (Dorfman Theatre at the National followed by 2016 transfer to Wyndham's Theatre)

The Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance
Judi Dench in The Winter's Tale (Garrick Theatre)

Best Director
Robert Icke for Oresteia (Almeida followed by transfer to Trafalgar Studios)

Best Designer
Anna Fleischle for Hangmen (Royal Court followed by transfer to Wyndham's Theatre)

Most Promising Playwright
James Fritz for Four minutes twelve seconds (Hampstead Theatre and Trafalgar Studios)

The Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer [other than a playwright]
David Moorst in Violence and Son (Royal Court)