sat 20/07/2024

Patrick Stewart gets pointed at theatre awards | reviews, news & interviews

Patrick Stewart gets pointed at theatre awards

Patrick Stewart gets pointed at theatre awards

Theatrical knight has a run in with the co-creator of Gavin and Stacey

What do you do for an encore at a theatre awards ceremony that several years ago featured James Corden locking lips with a mighty surprised Daniel Radcliffe? The unscripted moment that had spectators buzzing at Sunday night's trophy-bearing gala at the Prince of Wales Theatre involved one theatrical knight making a rather, uh, pointed reference to another.

More precisely, scarcely had Sir Patrick Stewart accepted his supporting actor prize for playing Claudius in the Royal Shakespeare Company Hamlet before he was giving  the affectionate finger to Sir Trevor Nunn, who had preceded Stewart by mere minutes at the podium as best director for both A Little Night Music and Inherit the Wind.

Nunn's offense? To dismiss Stewart's plea, or so the actor reported, some years back when the Star Trek star enquired about playing Claudius in the Old Vic Hamlet that Nunn was then preparing with Ben Whishaw in the title role and Nunn's wife, Imogen Stubbs, as Gertrude. Nunn's apparent reply was that Stewart was "too old" - which is interesting, given that Stewart is in fact six months younger than Nunn, who is himself 21 years Stubbs's senior.

Still, as Shakespeare didn't say, what's in a birthdate? The anatomical gesture was just one of a series of larky, spontaneous happenings that helped make this series of gongs among the larkiest I've encountered in some time. Several losers confessed to me during the interval that they knew in advance they weren't going to win but had come along to have a good Valentine's night out. And co-hosts Christopher Biggins and Mel Giedroyc did their loopy best, as well, Giedroyc proffering tissues whenever a recipient began to get emotional and Biggins appearing briefly in the second act as what can only be described as Susan Boyle does Hairspray's Edna Turnblad.

In the parade of prize-giving knees-ups that is to follow over the next month (Baftas, Oscars, Oliviers), the 10th-anniversary awards are going to be hard to beat for sheer japery and off-the-cuff good fun. As for the likelihood of Stewart working any time soon with Nunn? In the theatre, as in life, never say never.

For a full list of the evening's winners, click here.

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