(Liz Jury's article ran in The Evening Standard, 11/11.)
Evening Standard theatre awards: Rachel Weisz and Lenny Henry fight stage giants for top prize
Weisz's return to the London stage, as Blanche DuBois in the Donmar's A Streetcar Named Desire, puts her in the running for best actress. She is up against Juliet Stevenson, who put in the performance of her career as a multiple sclerosis sufferer in Duet for One.
American Deanna Dunagan – who already has a Tony award for her performance in August: Osage County – and Penny Downie complete the shortlist of female stars announced today. Judges made special mention of Pauline Malefane in the joyous South African production of The Mysteries.
Henry, 51, finds himself pitted against contenders less than half his age as best newcomer, thanks to his belated stage debut as Othello, still running at Trafalgar Studios. In a battle of stage giants, best actor will be contested by four names who have repeatedly helped keep British theatre alight. Three-time Standard award winner Simon Russell Beale leads the charge for his Leontes in Sam Mendes's The Winter's Tale. He faces stiff competition from Ken Stott in Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge, Mark Rylance and Samuel West.
Rylance wins a place for his tragicomic performance as a West Country rebel in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem. West is in the running for his depiction of Jeffrey Skilling, the fraudulent head of energy firm Enron in 28-year-old Lucy Prebble's play – only her second one.
Rising star Bertie Carvel won a mention in despatches for a wonderful unshowy performance in The Pride.
In the play category, August: Osage County – the Steppenwolf theatre company production seen at the National – and Punk Rock, a drama of adolescent angst by the prolific Simon Stephens, complete the list.
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