She hadn’t been on stage for 25 years, swapping acting for politics to serve as an MP. But Glenda Jackson’s comeback – as King Lear – has been rewarded with a leading acting award.
The 81-year-old double Oscar winner returned to the stage at London’s Old Vic theatre at the end of last year.
Her performance as Shakespeare’s king has now earned her the Evening Standard Theatre Award for best actress.
Sunday’s ceremony also saw Andrew Garfield named best actor.
The former Spider-Man star picked up the trophy for his role in the National Theatre’s production of Angels in America.
He triumphed over Andrew Scott, who was nominated for playing Hamlet, and Bertie Carvel, given a nod for playing media mogul Rupert Murdoch in Ink. Both plays started at the Almeida in London.
The other nominees for best actress were Victoria Hamilton in Mike Bartlett’s Albion – also at the Almeida – and Laura Donnelly in The Ferryman at the Royal Court and then the West End.
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth was the biggest winner at Sunday’s ceremony, also winning best play, best director for Sam Mendes and the emerging talent award for Dunkirk actor Tom Glynn-Carney.
The ceremony was hosted by Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was praised for tackling the subject of sexual harassment, including the Old Vic’s response to the allegations against its former artistic director Kevin Spacey.
The full winners:
Best actor: Andrew Garfield, Angels in America (National Theatre)
Natasha Richardson award for best actress: Glenda Jackson, King Lear (Old Vic)
Best musical performance: Amber Riley, Dreamgirls (Savoy)
Best play: The Ferryman, Jez Butterworth (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Milton Shulman award for best director: Sam Mendes, The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Best design: Bunny Christie for Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle (Wyndham’s)/Ink (Almeida & Duke of York’s)/The Red Barn (National Theatre)
Charles Wintour award for most promising playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, An Octoroon (Orange Tree)
Emerging talent award: Tom Glynn-Carney, The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Evening Standard Radio 2 audience award for best musical: Bat out of Hell – The Musical (Coliseum)