Eoghan Funge looks at this year’s Olivier Awards
This year seemed to be quite the convergence of the theatrical and entertainment industries at the 2023 Olivier Awards hosted in The Royal Albert Hall, London. The West End’s Tony Awards equivalent boasts a night of glamour, alcohol and award-giving to the United Kingdoms theatrical contributors. The greatest overlap of all was the many stars of stage and television coming together to support one another. Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham, whose career started in theatre, hosted the affair with flashy singing, quick witted comedy and an air of modest confidence - almost in disbelief at her position as host.
As is with any Olivier Awards the Best Actor and Best Actress categories could easily have been mistaken for a BAFTA or Oscars bracket with names such as David Tennant, Jodie Comer, Tom Hollander and Rafe Spall appearing on the list - but it was of course, Irelands own Paul Mescal who took home the Olivier for his role in the hit Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire.
It seems universally agreed that this years London theatre season is something of an Avant-Garde look in at what British production can achieve. With a previously underwhelming season with names such as Bad Cinderella hitting brackets at last years Olivier's it’s refreshing to see theatre critics and professionals take an interest at reviving, reproducing and reconstructing the theatrical norms that many of us are so used to. With this in mind, in my opinion possibly one of the greatest snubs of the evening was Rob Madge’s loss in the Best Comedy award for his production of My Son's A Queer (But What Can You Do.) It started as an independent theatre piece but struck the hearts of audiences and creatives alike and hit the West End for a limited run. It brought in huge names consecutively evening after evening into the audience to experience this heart-wrenching autobiographical comedy all about finding ones identity in themselves and in their family.
As previously mentioned it seems to be a season for the classics to really take hold of British Theatre - with the new Newsies adaptation currently performing in Wembley taking home best theatre choreographer and A Streetcar Named Desire taking home 3 of the 6 awards nominated - including both Best Actor and Best Actress categories and Best Revival. This was certainly a season for the returns to the classics. It of course does not stop there with the recently opened immersive Guys and Dolls being eyed up as the next Olivier’s success story.
All in all, the awards ceremony, while annually ineffective in nature, seems to be taking a turn for the better as they cast eye to broader spectrums of performance and performative theatre. The evening was a success, made so by the many winners and of course, Hannah Waddingham.