Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

News: Actor in a Visiting Production

This is one of those curious awards that can really mix things up: famous household names against newcomers; Shakespearean comedians against song and dance energy. It’s no less true with this group of nominees.

Edward Bennett manfully strode a line in the Shakespeare comedies that saw him subtly differentiate between similar types (at least in these Edwardian-set productions) but nonetheless gave them clearly-defined characters - while both being generous, funny and energetic.
In The Encounter, meanwhile, Simon McBurney was quite the opposite. His own play/one-man show was a masterclass in unsettling imagery and situations, and spellbinding because of it..
Likewise Michael Pennington was easy to dislike for his selfishness and pettiness as Lear, though the stature of the performance was a little let down by an only average overall production.
But despite the heavyweight group we had no hesitation in giving the award to Rufus Hound, whose performances in big-hitting shows have shown he can outperform the best, with a highly personable style and dazzling comic timing - especially here, in a role seemingly made for him, and which dominated a massively successful production.

Paul Genty
17 March 2017