Critics were divided again this year in trying to determine which actor had done best by the Bard in 2008 – so, in the 20th annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, announced today (27 January 2009) in the Delfont Mackintosh Room at the Prince of Wales theatre, they made a joint presentation for Best Shakespearean Performance.

The prize was split between David Tennant for his title performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet - which few Londoners saw because of a back injury which forced Tennant to withdraw from most of the West End season (See News, 5 Jan 2009) – and Derek Jacobi for his performance as the miserable Malvolio in Michael Grandage’s Donmar West End production of Twelfth Night, still running at Wyndham’s Theatre.

Jacobi’s win was one of four overall for the Donmar Warehouse, which continues its domination of this year’s theatre awards after also netting four trophies at the Evening Standard Awards in November (See News, 24 Nov 2008), and a phenomenal 18 nominations in the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (See News, 5 Dec 2008), for which voting concludes this week.

As at the Standard Awards, artistic director Michael Grandage was today named Best Director for Ivanov and The Chalk Garden, and Margaret Tyzack won Best Actress for The Chalk Garden (which she shared with her co-star Penelope Wilton at the Standard Awards). In addition, Kenneth Branagh won the Critics’ prize for Best Actor for his title performance in Grandage’s Donmar West End production of Ivanov.

Fellow Standard winners celebrating again today were Neil Murray (Best Designer for Brief Encounter and Ella Smith (Most Promising Newcomer for Fat Pig). The Menier Chocolate Factory revival of La Cage aux Folles was named Best Musical and the Tony Award-winning transfer of August: Osage County, care of the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Company, won Best New Play today. The critics declared Alexi Kaye Campbell, who made his playwriting debut last year with The Pride in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Most Promising Playwright.

With the exception of Derek Jacobi and Twelfth Night, which opened too late for our judging year, all of the critics’ winners are also in the running for the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, the only major theatre prize-giving decided by the public, for which online voting concludes this Saturday 31 January 2009, with winners’ trophies presented on Sunday 15 February 2009 at the Awards Concert, also held at the Prince of Wales Theatre (although in the actual 1,100-seat auditorium) and attended by numerous nominees and winners. The awards season culminates in March with the Laurence Olivier Awards. The Olivier shortlists are released next week ahead of the awards ceremony on Sunday 8 March 2009.

NOTE: Photos and further reporting from the Critics’ Circle Awards will be posted later today. Please check back for updates…

- by Terri Paddock

The full list of Critics’ Circle winners is as follows:

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts - NT Lyttelton

The Peter Hepple Award for BEST MUSICAL
La Cage aux Folles - Menier Chocolate Factory & Playhouse

Kenneth Branagh for Ivanov - Donmar West End at Wyndham’s Theatre

Margaret Tyzack for The Chalk Garden - Donmar Warehouse

The John and Wendy Trewin Award for BEST SHAKESPEAREAN PERFORMANCE
Derek Jacobi for Twelfth Night - Donmar West End at Wyndham’s
David Tennant for Hamlet - Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford & at the Novello

Michael Grandage for The Chalk Garden & Ivanov - Donmar Warehouse & Donmar West End at Wyndham’s

Neil Murray for Brief Encounter - The Cinema, Haymarket

Alexi Kaye Campbell for The Pride - Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs

Ella Smith for Fat Pig - Trafalgar Studios & Comedy Theatre

Agree or disagree with the critics?
For the full list of Theatregoers’ Choice Awards
nominations & to vote – click here. Awards Concert tickets are priced from £15 to £40 & are selling fast!!! To book yours, call the Prince of Wales box office on
0844 482 5133 or click here to book online!