Two of London theatre’s rising stars claimed their first Laurence Olivier Awards in the 2010 Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories.
Eddie Redmayne and Ruth Wilson, both just 28-years-old, won the awards for their performances in the Donmar Warehouse productions of Red and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Redmayne, who previously won the Newcomer categories at the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards in 2004/5 for his performance in The Goat Or Who Is Sylvia?, triumphed in his category over Mackenzie Crook (Jerusalem), Rory Kinnear (Burnt By The Sun) and Tim Pigott-Smith (Enron). The award was presented by Harriet Thorpe and David Essex, who is soon to be seen in the West End in new musical All The Fun Of The Fair.
In Red, Redmayne played assistant Ken to artist Mark Rothko (Alfred Molina), a role which saw him grow from a nervous, tentative boy into a man able to stand up to the famous expressionist’s bullying. The show proved so successful when it played at the Donmar Warehouse in late 2009 that it transferred to Broadway, where it is currently playing at the Golden Theater.
Wilson’s win came in a category packed with exciting young British actresses including Hayley Atwell (A View From The Bridge), Michelle Dockery (Burnt By The Sun), Keira Knightley (The Misanthrope), Rachael Stirling (The Priory) and Alexandra Gilbreath (Twlefth Night), the only nominated performer older than 32.
Playing Stella in Tennessee Williams’s classic, Official London Theatre said of Wilson’s performance: “[Stella], a willowy doll in the arms of her looming, sculpted husband, has her emotions shred to raggedy pieces, moving from a nice line in wry humouring to uncontrollable anguish”.
Tonight does not give Wilson her first taste of the glamour and tension awards ceremonies offer; she was previously nominated for both a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for her breakthrough performance in the BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre. She will return to the London stage later this year, when she leads the cast of Through A Glass Darkly at the Almeida theatre.
Playwright Mike Bartlett, just 29 himself, saw his show Cock, which played at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, win the award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. The “witty and painful in-depth look into one man’s psyche and the ever-changing ideas of sexuality and love” starred Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott and Katherine Parkinson. It beat fellow nominees Iya Ile (Soho theatre) and the Tricycle theatre’s The Great Game season to the coveted statuette.