In Pictures: The 2012 Off West End Awards

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 72 months ago
In Pictures: The 2012 Off West End Awards
Alison Steadman
Alison Steadman
Joe Darke, Best Choreographer
Joe Darke, Best Choreographer
Neil McPherson, Best Artistic Director
Neil McPherson, Best Artistic Director
Joe SIms, People's Favourite Male Performance
Joe SIms, People's Favourite Male Performance
Dawn King (third from left), Most Promising New Playwright
Dawn King (third from left), Most Promising New Playwright
Danny Webb presented an award
Danny Webb presented an award
Aden Gillett, Best Male Performance
Aden Gillett, Best Male Performance
Vinette Robinson, Best Female Performance
Vinette Robinson, Best Female Performance
Don Warrington handed out the People's Awards
Don Warrington handed out the People's Awards
Sam Walters was recognised with a Special Achievement Award for his work at the Orange Tree theatre.
Sam Walters was recognised with a Special Achievement Award for his work at the Orange Tree theatre.

If you wanted to take the pulse of London's exciting fringe theatre scene over the last 12 months, there was no better place to be than this unique celebration.

This year's ceremony took place at the Theatre Royal Stratford East (about as far off from the West End as you can get) and attracted a host of stars. Louise Jameson - stepping in for last year's host Simon Callow - presented the evening with Rising Damp's Don Warrington, Casino Royale's Danny Webb, last week's Being Human baddie Alex Jennings and Gavin & Stacey's Alison Steadman (amongst others) taking to the stage to hand out the prizes.

The big winner on the night was undoubtably the Finborough Theatre. Handily situated above a wine bar in Earl's Court, the tiny venue has packed a powerful punch in recent times in large part thanks to its only paid member of staff, Artistic Director Neil McPherson, who has been at the venue since 1999. He echoed last year's result by again walking away with the award for Best Artistic Director while his production of Emlyn Williams' 1950 drama Accolade collected five prizes including Best Male Performance for Aden Gilett and Best Director for Blanche McIntyre. The play's success at the box office would not have been hurt by its modern theme of unwarranted media intrusion and having amongst its cast a certain Graham Seed who attracted national attention a few weeks before Accolade's press night by falling off a roof.

Close behind, Clapham's Landor Theatre got its mitts on four Offies, three of which were down to its musical Ragtime while the critically-acclaimed Mogadishu was nominated twice but left empty-handed.

As well as the professionally judged awards, there were those voted for the public. These included the People's Favourite Female and Male Performances won this year by Count Oederland's Evelyn Adams and Joe Sims for As We Forgive Them at the New Arcola.

There's no  doubt that the summer of 2012 will be an interesting year for London theatre. On the one hand, the summer will see a record-breaking influx of tourists keen to see beach volleyball and other sports who may be keen to indulge in one of the capital's more renowned diversions; on the other, it may be too much to ask sore-bottomed Olympic attendees to pay for another session of sit-and-watch meaning that Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cassandra-like wailing may actually come to pass. How fringe theatre will fare over the next 12 months  is anyone's guess but here's hoping it will continue its strong traditions of quality, innovation and bravery.

All photos (c) Lisa Thomson.

Last Updated 12 February 2012