Chimerica named best new play at Britain’s Olivier stage awards

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 10:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 10:09pm


Geopolitical drama Chimerica, a play about the entwined fates of China and the United States, was named the best new play at Britain's Olivier stage awards, on a night when London's small theatres flexed their substantial muscle.

Lucy Kirkwood's play opens with a search for the protester photographed standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It also won four other trophies including best director, for Lyndsey Turner.

Sunday night's other big winner was musical The Book of Mormon, which stormed London just as it earlier wowed New York. It won four prizes, including best new musical and best actor in a musical, for Gavin Creel.

Choreographer and co-director Casey Nicholaw said the success of the show, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, came down to its blend of "good contemporary satire and good old-fashioned entertainment".

Chimerica was one of several winners to start life in state-subsidised off-West End venues. Chimerica opened at north London's 300-seat Almeida Theatre before transferring to a bigger commercial playhouse. The same path was followed by an acclaimed revival of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, which took prizes for best revival, best actress, for Lesley Manville, and best supporting actor, for Jack Lowden.

"Oh, Larry, where have you been all my life?" said a delighted Manville, clutching her statuette, a bust of acting legend Laurence Olivier.

Director Richard Eyre adapted the play, distilling Ibsen's 19th century script down to an intense 90 minutes.

The victories were a boost for state-funded arts groups at a time when the government is cutting public spending to reduce the country's huge deficit.