Manchester Theatre Awards

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

News: Best Actor

The Best Actor category caused some problems for the panel this year as there were a few performances that, in any other year, would have been expected to walk away with the prize.

James Simmons spat the acid wit of Noël Coward with relish as Elyot in the first of two big productions of Private Lives in 2011 at the Coliseum Theatre in Oldham.

There were more malicious words from George Irving, but with darker intent, in an intense and quietly-manipulative portrayal of George in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Octagon.

Also at the Octagon, Rob Edwards was totally convincing as the tactless but beguiling scientist and university lecturer Messenger, with no inhibitions about openly discussing anything from the nature of “self” to sex in David Lodge’s new play Secret Thoughts based on his novel Thinks….

The winner was a performance from Con O’Neill that he could have been working towards for years, as his distinctive high, throaty voice and laid-back but very intense acting style were perfect for the character of Eddie Carbone in Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

David Chadderton
14 March 2012