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  • Eddie Hewitt

Annual Awards 2022

The fifth annual virtual ceremony, recognising excellence in Creative Culture...and Sport.

1. Theatre

Winner: As You Like It, Soho Place

As You Like It is often performed in the summertime, sometimes immersively in the open air. In 2022, going into 2023, the play is being presented in an icy cold winter, in the round, with the Forest of Arden set under glass in a brand-new theatre. Soho Place, the first new theatre in West End in 50 years, is magnificent. This is a dream of a contemporary space for drama. Attractively styled, perfectly arranged and buzzing with excitement.

First up at Soho Place

This production brings us a new dimension in the delivery of Shakespeare’s language. This As You Like It tackles audism (a bias towards hearing people and a diminishing of those who do not hear). Celia, played by Rose Ayling-Ellis, delivers her lines in sign language. Fellow members of the cast also communicate expressively, as well as in spoken form, in a combination of signing conventions.

Rose Ellis-Ayling as Celia (photo: Johan Persson)

Leah Harvey stars as Rosalind and enchants all in the forest and beyond. Her previous stellar roles have included the lead in Emilia at Shakespeare’s Globe, Hortense in Andrea Levy’s Small Island at The National, and Salvor Hardin in Asimov’s Foundation on Apple TV+. And then there’s Alfred Enoch, also from Foundation, as Orlando, disgruntled younger brother, wrestler and perplexed suitor.

Leah Harvey as Rosalind (photo: Johan Persson)

The drama is amusing, charming and romantic. Stirring, with a plenty of edge and danger, too, ending up with reconciliation, multiple weddings and all-round joy. Soho Place is just the place to capture all this wonderment. This is truly a success story in an age when theatres seem more likely to close than open. A well-loved classic, directed by Josie Rourke with sensitivity and inclusion, innovation and reassurance, in a vibrant and uplifting environment.

Runner up: Henry VIII, Shakespeare’s Globe

Hannah Khalil, writer in residence, exquisitely re-profiled this much under-performed play, stitching together lines from other Shakespeare plays and giving the female characters more prominence. Bea Segura stole the show for me in the role of Katharine of Aragon. Janet Etuk, as Anne Bullen, the apple of so many historians’ eyes, stood firm as long as she could. This was the version of Henry VIII we needed to see, bringing to the fore strong women towering over a weak and dishonourable king. Elizabeth I made cameo appearances, first as a baby and later as Gloriana, in a year when the late Elizabeth II was celebrating her platinum jubilee, 400 years after a spark from a cannon set the original Globe theatre alight.

Bea Segura as Queen Katharine (photo: Marc Brenner)

Hannah Khalil at The Globe (photo: Tereza Cervenova)

Runner up: Rebellion and Wars of the Roses, The RSC

The return of live theatre on the main stage in Stratford-upon-Avon after a long and unhappy break. Two plays in one day, truly a day to lose one’s head with excitement. On stage, many heads rolled in the biggest battles Shakespeare ever quilled. This was devastating, brilliant history in the grandest of settings, with a superb cast and top direction by Owen Horsley.

Mark Quartley as King Henry VI (photo: Ellie Kurttz)

2. Literature

Winner: The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell

The book following Hamnet was always going to be a challenge, but Maggie O’Farrell has written another marvel. Here, the author takes us back again into the sixteenth century, but this time to Tuscany, with a tragic figure just a little older than Shakespeare’s Juliet. The narrative plunges back and forth in time, from place to place, and it’s easy for both the heroine, Lucrezia, and us as readers to lose our bearings. With a tiger in the basement, a violent husband, an arsenal of weapons, a dose of poison and a corset that stifles the breath, there’s only going to be one outcome in the end. Along the way, husband Alfonso, the Duke, controls the Duchess’s every movement, until the portrait team comes to visit and the story takes an unexpected turn. The artist’s apprentice offers a possible way out. Eventually, Lucrezia takes her chance. But there are two endings. One has been foretold throughout, the other is completely fanciful, though one we may desperately desire. I am happy with the ending I choose.

Runner up: Eden, by Jim Crace

This is a fabulous story that brings us down to earth with a bump. Crace excels in de-bunking the biblical myth, filling the primeval garden with many hapless men and women, all toiling away without any real purpose or understanding of why they are there. All subject to a host of angels, glorified, giant bluebirds of prayer, who in turn are looked down on by an invisible, supreme being. Brutality abounds, and the story ends in turmoil, with the garden gates forced open, bringing in, peasants, equality, and death. The angels disappear, and any fruit of choice is now on the menu. In this cruel tale of awakening, a sense of earthly reality creeps into our origins, though even this version might not be totally plausible for some.

3. Contemporary Art

Winner: Sophie Green

Animals are challenging subjects for artists. Elusive and fleeting, yet in some ways more helpful than human sitters. They’re not posing for you, at least, not wild animals, so they won’t complain if you don’t quite capture what they think they look like. They will never see their likenesses in galleries or on the walls in someone’s home.

The painting of animals seems to come with a need to tell a story, or relay a message, intensifying the art. When discussing her latest collection, Impermanence, Sophie reminds us of the impact of melting ice caps on polar bears, and the risks posed to elephants and big game by ivory traders and trophy hunters.

Sophie Green with her painting Majesty (photo: Sophie Green, via Twitter)

Sadly, the world needs to be reminded that many species are endangered, either by everyday human activity or by mindless fun for the few. Sophie’s paintings show us this vulnerability as well as great beauty and strength.

Harambee by Sophie Green (photo: Sophie Green, via Twitter)

Her art is stunning, evocative and powerful. The animals are captured with exceptional precision and skill, in hyper-realist style. In her videos of painting sessions, every brush stroke seems assured, a deliberate and commanding action. When it comes to sharks, though, I would love to see Sophie painting underwater. I’m sure she would maintain her poise and control even there!

Libertas by Sophie Green (photo: Sophie Green, via Twitter)

At the end of an especially creative and productive year, Sophie has given £50,000 to wildlife charities, from the sale of prints and original works. The CC award in 2022 therefore goes to a superb portraitist and a committed animal philanthropist.

Runner up: Lamia Eda Kula

Lamia takes us beyond our earthly domain and into an intergalactic playground. Her paintings of stellar constellations are awe-inspiring. For artist and viewer, this is the closest you can get to standing under the night sky and gazing up in wonderment. If ever I were to go into space these are the scenes I would expect, no, demand to see; starscapes that embrace a magical realm far beyond our understanding.

My favourite pieces include The Fighting Dragons of Ara, Galaxy 2,The Bubble Nebula and Stellar Universe, but there are so many to explore. Lamia, you have captured a distant realm and brought it deep within. The sky is not the limit in your art.

The Fighting Dragons of Ara (photo: Lamia Eda Kula)

Galaxy 2 (photo: Lamia Eda Kula)

4. Film

Winner: Spirited

Until 2022 there were only two Christmas films that I considered to be proper films. First, Love Actually. A moving pageant of festive encounters and lifelong yearnings. Second, Elf: best cup of coffee in the world, the seven levels of the candy cane forest, angry Elf, baby it's cold outside and Santa? I know him! Sorry, make that three. A Christmas Carol. The one with Patrick Stewart. He makes it so…Dickensian, on screen.

Now there’s a fourth. Spirited. Misrepresented by some as Elf 2, Spirited again draws heavily on the Dickens classic. Yet Spirited is also in a class of its own. Once you get past a series of dodgy opening numbers, the movie gains momentum and turns into an exciting romp.

Will Ferrell reveals himself as the Ghost of Christmas Present, doubling up as Ebeneezer Scrooge in a quirky mix up of identity. He haunts Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), the modern day bah humbug merchant, who lives to grow his fortune. Cynicism rules. Octavia Spencer (Kimberly) adds class as the love interest. The song and dance routines get better and better. Ryan Reynolds does a superb Dick van Dyke cockney accent, right up there with the vocal genius of Lyn-Manuel Miranda.

Ryan Reynolds (L) and Will Ferrell (R) hoofing it up in Victorian times

Now, here’s the twist. In this version of redemption, there are two unredeemables, until they’re not. Christmas Present ghost reveals himself to be a fraud, though one who has toiled away for 200 years trying to rescue other lost souls. The last on his list, Briggs, eventually sees the light, and we have a happy-ever-after story to die for. All that's left to say now is…“Good Afternoon!!!”

Runner up: The Batman

Cedric Diggory alter-ego Robert Pattinson hides behind the mask as the latest violent vigilante with a tortured soul. Gotham City needs saving once again. The Batman is aided here by superhero sidekick Catwoman. Zoe Kravitz, brazen and ready to pounce, comes up with the best line in the movie: “The Bat and the Cat. It’s got a nice ring to it”. They make an impressive double act. Maybe not the film we needed, but probably the one that we deserved.

Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz (the new Dynamic Duo)

5. Television

Winner: Inside Man

For many years, David Tennant was my favourite doctor. He still is, but now he’s also my favourite vicar. Harry Watling is a dynamic, approachable, compassionate man of the cloth. Also a devoted dad, decent husband, everyone’s friend. Until he goes and pushes his son’s maths tutor (Dolly Wells) down the stairs into the cellar. There’s been a mix-up over the ownership of some porn on a USB memory stick. It belongs to a wayward parishioner (Mark Quartley, previously Henry VI at the RSC), but the vicar covers up for him and weaves an almighty web of lies that will surely lead to damnation.

(L-R) David Tennant, Dolly Wells, Lydia West, Stanley Tucci

Across the Atlantic, Stanley Tucci plays Jefferson Grieff, an unrepentant wife murderer behind bars. He takes on ‘cases’ to help others out, but never gives straight answers. Lydia West, as journalist Beth Davenport, straddles the two worlds, determined to find a missing friend who may just be the link between the two anti-heroes and their misdeeds.

In the end, the police get their man. The vicar’s wife gets taken out by a fast-moving delivery van, the son finishes off his tutor with a hammer, and Grieff decides he doesn’t want to die after all. Calm is restored, but some mysteries remain unsolved.

Runner up: Strange New Worlds

In this latest Star Trek spin-off we are spun back on board the Enterprise, in the pre-Kirk era, thank goodness. Anson Mount plays the more composed Captain Pike, supported by young Spock (Ethan Peck). The rest of the cast is re-modelled into the kind of crew we would expect in 2022. The new Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) speaks 37 languages and doesn’t say ‘Hailing frequencies open, Captain’ in any of them (I think). Otherwise, the Starfleet mission is the same: establish first contact, uphold the prime directive, get tangled up in romantic escapades, and repair the ship after it’s been battered to within an inch of its warpish life. The new worlds may be strange, but the Enterprise is reassuringly familiar.

The New Away Team

6. Comedy

A first-time category in the esteemed history of the CC Awards.

Winner: Troy Hawke

Shoulders back. You’ve got this. He’s got this. He’s the boss of us, we’re not the boss of him. I give you Troy Hawke, alias Milo McCabe.

The President of the Greeters’ Guild has not so much burst onto the scene as emerged stealthily in front of so many shop windows, bringing forth his quick wittedness and suave disposition for the benefit of so many passers by, baffling and delighting them in equal measure.

Troy's the one in the purple smoking jacket, not a dressing gown. So polite. So cheeky. His tone and diction are sophisticated. He’s one of the great schmoozers. Always charming and reassuring. Always leaving people feeling better than they did before he accosted them. Never fazed, especially not by jobsworthy shop managers who try to move him on. Just ask for Jan Molby.

Always ready for a brief encounter

Troy soars where others fear to tread. He even managed to get Pep Guardiola to answer a silly question on arrival at the Man City training camp, shortly after telling Jack Grealish he has a perfectly symmetrical face. Outstanding! Such a gentlemen and such a hoot. My question to you though, readers, is this: did I bring you everything you wanted in this category? Have at you!

7. Sport

Winner: the England Cricket Team

Another summer of Stokes, with England's captain dancing down the wicket to the fast bowlers of the world and either knocking them into the stands or grinning on the way back to the pavilion, knowing everything was still on course. England blasted their way to unexpected wins each time from behind against NZ, then India, and finally South Africa. 6 wins out of 7. Fast forward to December and a 3-0 victory in Pakistan. A veritable Winter of Stokes! That makes 9 out of 10 wins for the year, my goodness!

Captain Marvel

The whole team seems to be settling in nicely. This year, more than ever, the approach has changed, the style of play has advanced. Impossibilities are becoming possible. And the all-round confidence has sky-rocketed. Confidence can be a fickle friend, but let’s enjoy this prolonged spell of good fortune while it lasts.

England on the way to winning in Rawalpindi, 5 minutes before the sun went down

Throw in T20 joy in Australia, with Jos Buttler leading England to victory in the pyjama knockabout tournament. They play this version of the game differently, now, too. Helped by Sir Ben, again.

The T20 World Cup Winners 2022

Runner up: Manchester City FC

Champions Again! 4 times in the last 5 years. We’re going to need a bigger trophy room. And then a bigger one after that. May 2022: an excruciating challenge, once again. Sporting justice in the end. Thank you Ilkay, for nodding in the first, and tapping in the third. Thank you Raheem, for the cross. Thank you Pep. For everything you’ve achieved and everything still to come. Extension agreed. And now we have a World Cup Winner – Julián Álvarez of Argentina. We also have a prolific Norwegian giant who didn’t have the chance to play in the desert but is leading the charge towards European glory.

Champions 2021/22

At home with the De Bruynes

Julián Álvarez

This year, no awards are presented separately for Social Justice and Leadership.

© Eddie Hewitt 2022


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