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A beginner's guide to the 2016 Olivier Awards

Andrzej Lukowski

The biggest awards in the British theatre calendar take place at the Royal Opera House on Sunday night and will screen on ITV the same evening. Want to know who'll win? Please enjoy an in-no-way biased guide



WHO SHOULD WIN The momentum is with veteran Kenneth Cranham for his outstanding turn in Florian Zeller’s chic ‘The Father’. I'm happy with that (accepting that the nomination should clearly have gone to John Heffernan for the RSC's 'Oppenheimer', but hey ho).
WHO WILL WIN A very tough field is completed by Benedict Cumberbatch, Kenneth Branagh, Adrian Lester and Mark Rylance. Cranham should overcome the bigger names, but none of the others would be a shock.



WHO SHOULD WIN Unquestionably Denise Gough, for her staggering performance as capricious addict Emma in ‘People, Places and Things’.
WHO WILL WIN Nicole Kidman’s solid performance in ‘Photograph 51’ wasn’t in Gough’s league, but don’t rule out her star power carrying the day, especially as controversial changes to the Oliviers voting structure mean SOLT members may not have seen 'PPT' prior to casting their votes (because it only just opened on the West End after starting life at the NT's small Dorfman theatre).


WHO SHOULD WIN If you asked any of the other four nominees who they thought should win, they would say ‘Imelda Staunton for “Gypsy”’ and they would be right.
WHO WILL WIN Staunton is so certain to win that the shortlist is basically just a courtesy.




WHO SHOULD WIN I’m going to be grumpy and say either Robert Icke’s ‘Oresteia’ – probably un-nominated because judges were unsure whether the Greek tragedy rewrite counted as a new play – or Tom Morton-Smith's 'Oppenheimer' – probably un-nominated because… er… well, somebody more cynical than me might say because it wasn't very fresh in SOLT voting members' minds (it was on a year ago) and not many of them fancied checking out a three-hour-plus play about the invention of the atomic bomb. 
WHO WILL WIN Another tight field, but liable to be Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy ‘Hangmen’, as the rest – ‘The Father’, ‘People, Places and Things’, ‘Farinelli and the King’ – have all been somewhat overshadowed by their lead actors.


WHO SHOULD WIN Clearly Robert Icke for his visionary three-and-a-half-hour ‘Oresteia’, the least likely West End hit of 2015.
WHO WILL WIN ‘Oresteia’ wasn’t nominated for best new play or best revival – probably because nobody can work out which it is – so an Icke win seems extremely likely, though Jonathan Kent may bag it for ‘Gypsy’.


WHO SHOULD WIN It would be lovely if the plucky, funny, multicultural ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ nabbed the prize, a silver lining to having to close early.
WHO WILL WIN One suspects it’ll be the solid ‘Kinky Boots’ as it’s the closest thing in the nominations to a hit show. But it’s a fairly open field, principally because the revival of ‘Gypsy’ doesn’t qualify.


WHO SHOULD WIN Judi Dench was electric as Paulina in ‘The Winter’s Tale’, effortlessly the best thing about Kenneth Branagh's overripe production.
WHO WILL WIN It’s very hard to believe the Oliviers would pass up the chance to give the 81-year-old living legend her seventh gong.


WHO SHOULD WIN It’s hard to pick one from a very decent field of actors who shone in less-recognised plays. I can’t help but reserve a soft spot for David Suchet’s fantastical Lady Bracknell in Adrian Noble revival of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.
WHO WILL WIN Actually one of the more interesting fields, Mark Gatiss and Tom Sturridge have pretty decent chances too. Still, the scene-stealing nature of Suchet's turn will probably carry the day…

The Laurence Olivier Awards 2016 take place on Sunday. Highlights will be screened later that night on ITV. Follow @TimeOutTheatre for live results and commentary.

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