Irish plays and actor have big day at UK Theatre Awards

Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:36am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - It was a great day for the Irish at the UK Theatre Awards on Sunday as a new production of Brian Friel's "Translations" and Belfast-born "Game of Thrones" British-Irish actor Patrick O'Kane took two of the top awards.

The awards recognize the achievements of regional theater, while the annual Olivier Awards focus on the London stage.

O'Kane won the gong for best performance in a play for his portrayal of Jimmy in a production by Ireland's Abbey Theatre of Belfast-born playwright Owen McCafferty's "Quietly".

The production, which has toured Britain, is about two men who meet up in a pub decades later to deal with a bombing of that same pub during Northern Ireland's sectarian "troubles".

Friel's 1980 play, often deemed his finest work and which deals among other things with the importance of place names and the ambiguities of translation, won the award for best touring production in a staging directed by James Grieve for English Touring Theatre and co-produced with Sheffield Theatres and Rose Theatre Kingston.

Grieve said of the play that "working with writing of that quality makes your job a joy". He added that the award to productions of works by Friel and McCafferty underscored that "Irish playwrights throughout history have been extraordinary".

The award for best new play went to "An August Bank Holiday Lark" by Deborah McAndrew in a Northern Broadsides production, the award for best supporting performance went to Jenna Augen for "Bad Jews" produced by Theatre Royal Bath, the best musical was "Brass" directed by Sara Kestelman in a National Youth Music Theatre production at City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds, and the gong for best performance in a musical went to Jamie Parker in "Guys and Dolls" at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

The award for best director was shared by Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke for "1984", a Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre production, while the best design award went to Jon Bausor for "Mametz" in a National Theatre Wales production.   Continued...