Young playwrights James Graham and Nick Payne will compete with the legendary Caryl Churchill for best new play at this year's Evening Standard theatre awards.

Churchill, who won her first Evening Standard award 25 years ago for Serious Money, is shortlisted for Love and Information at the Royal Court, London, while Graham, 30, is up for political thriller This House, and Payne, 28, Constellations, currently previewing in the West End.

By a strange quirk of fate, Graham and Payne are younger than two of the nominees for the Charles Wintour most promising playwright award: actor Lolita Chakrabarti, 43, and screenwriter John Hodge, 47, both of whom saw their first plays staged this year in Red Velvet and Collaborators respectively. That category is completed by Tom Wells, author of The Kitchen Sink.

Elsewhere, London's Young Vic looks to have broken the National and Royal Court's awards monopoly, with a total of five nominations. Three of them are for Simon Stephens's adaptation of A Doll's House: Hattie Morahan for best actress, Carrie Cracknell, best director and Ian MacNeil, best design. The National has a total of six nominations and the Royal Court, five.

Artistic director of the NT Nicholas Hytner, James MacDonald and Ian Rickson will go head to head with Cracknell for best director.

Regional theatres are also well represented in the Ned Sherrin best musical category, with two Chichester festival theatre productions (Singin' in the Rain and Sweeney Todd) shortlisted alongside the Bristol Old Vic transfer Swallows and Amazons.

Morahan is joined by major international stars in the best actress category, listed alongside Cate Blanchett (Big and Small), Laurie Metcalf (Long Days Journey Into Night) and Eileen Atkins (All That Fall).

The tussle for best actor is a more homegrown affair. Simon Russell Beale, Charles Edwards and Luke Treadaway are all shortlisted for performances at the National theatre, and Adrian Lester, who will play Othello there next year, up for Red Velvet at the Tricycle.

As well as the eight shortlisted awards, judged by a panel of professional theatre critics and Evening Standard editor, Sarah Sands, winners for a further five awards will be announced at a ceremony on 25 November, to be presented by the actor James Corden.

Sands said, "This year's shortlist serves to remind what is so great about London's theatre – new plays by young writers, classic drama reimagined in the most exciting ways and a host of unforgettable performances.

"We simply wouldn't be a world city without this jewel in our cultural crown – it deserves the Standard's recognition with these awards."



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