The Inheritance wins best new play at UK Critics' Circle awards

Matthew Lopez’s epic drama wins three prizes, while Marianne Elliott’s production of Company is named best musical

The Inheritance, an epic seven-hour drama about young gay New Yorkers, has been named best new play at the Critics’ Circle theatre awards.

Matthew Lopez’s two-part play, which is inspired by EM Forster’s novel Howards End and transferred from the Young Vic to the West End, won three prizes at the ceremony held on Tuesday. Stephen Daldry was named best director and Kyle Soller, best known for playing Francis in the BBC’s Poldark, was named best actor.

Marianne Elliott’s production of Company, with music by Stephen Sondheim and lyrics by Sondheim and George Furth, picked up two awards: best musical and best designer. Bunny Christie’s surreal design for the show, which switched the gender of its singleton hero, used a number of neon-framed New York apartment rooms and had an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Bunny Christie’s design for Company at the Gielgud theatre.
Bunny Christie’s design for Company at the Gielgud theatre. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/Guardian

Patsy Ferran, who won the best newcomer prize from the Critics’ Circle in 2015, was this year named best actress for her performance in Summer and Smoke, a Tennessee Williams play given a revelatory production by Rebecca Frecknall at the Almeida and also in the West End.

The award for best Shakespearean performance was given to Sophie Okonedo for the National Theatre’s production of Antony and Cleopatra, which co-starred Ralph Fiennes and featured a rotating cast of four live snakes.

The best newcomer at the 2019 awards was Chris Walley, who graduated from Rada in 2018, for his performance in Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Natasha Gordon was named most promising playwright for Nine Night, her drama about a traditional Jamaican wake. It opened at the National Theatre’s Dorfman stage and is currently at Trafalgar Studios, where Gordon is now playing the lead role herself.

The special award for “services to theatre” was given to Neil McPherson, who is celebrating 20 years as artistic director of the Finborough, the 50-seat theatre in Earl’s Court, London, which specialises in neglected works from the 19th and 20th centuries.


Chris Wiegand

The GuardianTramp

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