Going, going, gong

Congratulations, sort of, to the Donmar and the Menier, who have won nine Tony awards between them, but the list of winners does not convey the impression that Broadway kicks (did it ever?).

Six gongs for John Logan’s Red seems absurd, and though Eddie Redmayne wins the Best Featured Actor, the better, more interesting performance was surely Alfred Molina’s as the painter Mark Rothko.

At least the Donmar’s wonderful regular trio of scenic designers is honoured: Christopher Oram (sets), Neil Austin (lights) and Adam Cork (sound), with Michael Grandage given the nod as Best Director.

But if Red is the best play Broadway can produce in a year, things must be in a parlous state indeed in the contemporary American theatre.

Mind you, our own Olivier Awards gave no less feeble an acknowledgement of British new playwriting this year by choosing The Mountaintop ahead of Jerusalem, Enron and at least three or four others.   

The Menier’s La Cage aux Folles picks up Tonys for Best Revival, Best Actor in a Musical (Douglas Hodge) and Best Director of a Musical (Terry Johnson), as well as — by association at least — Best Actress in a Musical for Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Zeta-Jones was coincidentally honoured at the weekend in the Queen’s birthday list: she was named CBE for her work in film and charity. Fair enough, I suppose, but not as well earned a CBE as those of poets Simon Armitage and Michael Langley.

The knighthood for playwright and screenwriter Ronald Harwood is best thought of as a reward for his work with PEN and friendship with Harold Pinter.

The one gong that made me vibrate with pleasure was the MBE for Anne Reid, a superb and glorious actress whose performance adds lustre to any play or film, or indeed television soap.

The OBE ranks now includes screenwriter Brian Clemens (why?), Bergerac star and former RSC stalwart John Nettles (big contribution to the Jersey tourist industry), actress Sophie Okonedo (again, why, exactly?) and, most mysterious of all, bird-brained Bonnie Greer “for services to the arts.”

Greer’s play about Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in a theatre, and I don’t know what else she’s done apart from sit on committees and sound off ludicrously on arts review programmes.

While all this back-slapping was in progress, the Tricycle launched their Women, Power and Politics season of nine short plays in Kilburn, a glorious, imperfect roller-coaster ride with Tony award-winning standards of acting from Niamh Cusack, Stella Gonet, Claire Cox, Kika Markham and Heather Craney. 

Prominent among the male members of the cast is my friend and neighbour Simon Chandler, or marathon man as we call him. He ran his first London marathon this year and completed his second at the Tricycle epic on Friday.

And of course the other marathon event in the real world began at the weekend, too, with the England goalkeeper Rob Green gifting the United States an equaliser in their World Cup opening game.

England’s performance was fairly mediocre. Argentina looked threatening in their first game. But the star of the tournament, and England’s nemesis, could well be the stunning new German mid-field player Mesut Ozil (of Turkish origin).

And unlike the Tonys, there’s never any doubt about the validity of a team’s right to win the World Cup. No-one votes for you. You can only win it by beating everyone else fair and square.

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