A 2017 performance of Hamlet took an odd turn when Fleabag actor Andrew Scott accidentally fired a prop gun at the actress playing his mother.
The prop gun did not fire projectiles and co-star Juliet Stevenson was unhurt – but Scott said he was still left “shaken” and “upset” by the mishap.
“For some reason one night the gun just went off in Juliet’s face,” said Scott. “I couldn’t believe it happened.”
When he apologised later though, the actress said she had “loved” the error.
“Didn’t it add something?” Scott recalled her saying, prompting laughter from the audience at this year’s Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards.
“This is a woman who was shot in the face,” he marvelled, citing the incident as “an example of real[ly] brave acting”.
Scott’s admission came as he was named best actor for his role in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter at London’s Old Vic last year.
The Irish actor played Hamlet in the Almeida Theatre production in the capital three years ago, with Stevenson playing his mother Gertrude.
Guns were used instead of daggers in the production of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, which was later recorded for BBC Two.
Stevenson received her own accolade at Tuesday’s lunchtime event, winning best actress for her role in another Almeida production, The Doctor.
She shared the award with Sharon D Clarke, who was recognised for her work in the Young Vic’s recent staging of Death of a Salesman.
Jamie Lloyd was named best director for three London productions – Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Evita at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park and Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse.
As he collected his award, the director paid tribute to Michael Billington, who received his own tribute in recognition of his near half-century as The Guardian’s theatre critic.
The best new play award, newly re-named in Billington’s honour, went to A Very Expensive Poison, Lucy Prebble’s drama about the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
Come From Away won best musical, while Sam Tutty was named most promising newcomer for playing the title role in Dear Evan Hansen.
Scott’s win came just hours after he was nominated for the best celebrity prize at this year’s British LGBT Awards.