Æ News – Catherine Wheels get another TMA Award

Nov 10 2010 | By More

Pobby and Dingan triumphs in Children and Young People category

By Thom Dibdin

Catherine Wheels, the Edinburgh-based children’s theatre company, has won the Equity Award for Best Show for Children and Young People at the TMA Awards in London.

Pobby and Dingan, an adaptation of Ben Rice’s children’s novella by Rob Evans, which was co-produced with the Brunton Theatre, was up against Cahoots NI’s production of The Snail and the Whale and the Salisbury Playhouse production of Toro! Toro!.

Ashley Smith as Kellyanne and Scott Turnbull as Ashmol, Pobby and Dingan Pic: Douglas McBride

“We were so thrilled to be nominated for the TMA and absolutely delighted that we won,” Gill Robertson artistic director of Catherine Wheels told the Æ. “Pobby and Dingan is a very special show, and one that all of us at Catherine Wheels are immensely proud of.”

Beautifully crafted and never overplaying the emotions, Catherine Wheels gave Rob Evans adaptation of Ben Rice’s short story a mature and moving production. The dark themes were presented with a light and humorous touch which never shrank back from its necessarily downbeat payoff.

Great performances helped. Scott Turnbull played Ashmal, a young lad trying to cope with life as a teenager in the remote Australian opal-mining town of Lightning Ridge. Ashley Smith was his little sister Kellyanne whose imaginary friends, Pobby and Dingan, with Ros Sydney as his Pommy mum and Damien Warren-Smith as his opal-daft dad who insist on believing in them too.

emotional investmen

“It was a long time in my mind – I first read Ben Rice’s novella nearly ten years ago,” continued Robertson. “We were finally able to get it to production just this year. Rob Evans did such a great job with the adaptation, and it’s one of those shows that really touched the audience.”

A strong element of the production was Karen Tennent’s imaginative set, with Catherine Wheel’s vibrant storytelling technique allowing the audience’s own imaginations to take off. It made it easily believable when Pobby and Dingan were pronounced dead and Ashmal has to search for them, enlisting the town’s people’s help. And created the necessary environment for the audience’s full emotional investment in the the production, so that the final truth both brings the enormity and finality of death to the stage in an un-mawkish but emotionally charged exploration of loss.

Ashley Smith as Kellyanne with Pobby and Dingan in Pobby and Dingan Pic: Douglas McBride

The production has already been recognised in the Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland, where it was nominated in the best production for children and young people category. In the event it lost out to Rob Drummond’s Mr Write – part of a three-play, teen-friendly package staged by the National Theatre of Scotland.

Catherine Wheels are no strangers to awards ceremonies, as Robertson points out: “We won a TMA award back in 2002 for our production of Lifeboat, which was another story that was very close to our hearts, and has touched audiences throughout the world. I hope Pobby and Dingan will go on to be enjoyed by audiences for many years to come.”

Catherine Wheels website

TMA Website


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