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Nick Payne's 'Constellations' tops Evening Standard Theatre Award

TheaterEntertainmentArts and CultureBritainEileen AtkinsRalph FiennesJudi Dench

An intimate, two-hander play by a relatively unknown writer took home the top prize at this year's London Evening Standard Theatre Awards. "Constellations," by Nick Payne, won the prize for best play on Sunday, beating out works by Caryl Churchill and James Graham.

"Constellations" ran at the Royal Court Upstairs earlier this year and starred Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall. The play -- a cryptic, science-themed romance that runs a brief 70 minutes -- received mostly positive reviews. The New Yorker's John Lahr wrote that Payne is "at the beginning of a great career." The Guardian's Michael Billington was more reserved, writing that it is either "the cleverest play in town or simply 'Love Story' with extra physics."

PHOTOS: London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2012

Britain's National Theatre went home with two major awards for Nicholas Hytner's direction of "Timon of Athens" and Simon Russell Beale's performance in "Collaborators," by "Trainspotting" screenwriter John Hodge.

Hattie Morahan won the award for best actress for the revival of Ibsen's "A Doll's House" at the Young Vic. She beat out an impressive list of nominees including Cate Blanchett, Eileen Atkins and Laurie Metcalf.

Special awards were given to director Danny Boyle and actress Judi Dench. 

Among the roster of celebrity guests attending Sunday's ceremony were Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy and Anna Wintour.

The Evening Standard Theatre Awards are voted on by a panel consisting of members of the British press.

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