2018 CATS in Full

Jun 10 2018 | By More

Full details of the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland

The CATS moved up to the newly refurbished Perth Theatre for its ceremony this year, presenting awards across ten categories of theatre.

Over 180 different productions were eligible for the awards, with 90 eligible for the best new play award and a dozen eligible for the theatre for children and young people category.

The winners at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland. Pic: Thom Dibdin.

As previously reported, this is the year when eight out of ten CATS went to Edinburgh, with the Lyceum and EIF doing particularly well, largely due to their co-production on Rhinoceros.

The awards were presented by actress Blythe Duff, who has won the best female performance award twice.

During the ceremony, a gobo with the #SaveStageLighting logo was displayed in the foyer of the theatre. Which became a particularly ironic statement after the first award had been given out – a power cut affecting the whole block thrust the theatre into darkness and almost forced the ceremony to be abandoned.

Perth’s backstage staff were quickly on the case and the show went on with three awards presented from the foyer steps and the rest back in the theatre when the power was restored.

Here is the full list of winners and the citations by the critics.

Best Male Performance

Robert Jack (Berenger), RhinocerosEdinburgh International Festival and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with DOT Theatre, Istanbul.

“Robert Jack perfectly captures the role of Berenger,  the dishevelled over-refreshed bystander staggering about an apparently irrational world.

Wide-eyed and hapless, his portrait of total incomprehension is stunning as is his realisation that the inhabitants of the town are all being turned into rhinoceroses and he alone is left unscathed, to fight on.” (Joy Watters, Across the Arts).

Best Female Performance, sponsored by STV

Jessica Hardwick (Young Woman), Knives in Hens, Perth Theatre

“When Jessica Hardwick first came onstage in Perth Theatre’s production of David Harrower’s remarkable play, Knives in Hens, she was as unrecognisable as she has been in pretty much everything she has done in her still short acting career so far. It’s not that Hardwick lacked charisma. Far from it. It’s just that she seems to possess an ability to shapeshift in a way that allows whatever character she’s playing to absorb her completely, yet still manages to stamp her personality all over it.

“As Harrower’s Young Woman, nameless and near inarticulate, Hardwick was utterly fearless in her embodiment of her, so the Woman’s primal hunger for knowledge became a physical thing. It was in those moments that Hardwick’s emotional depth as an actress fired up the stage with an urgency that suggested she was willing to fly without a safety net.

“For someone who’s barely started her career, Hardwick’s performance was a remarkable achievement, full of nuance and maturity amidst the fury.

“When the CATS judges were discussing Jessica Hardwick’s performance in Knives in Hens, the word that kept on coming up was ‘fearless’, and it’s hard to think of a better superlative to sum up one of the brightest and bravest acting talents of her generation.” (Neil Cooper, The Herald)

Best Ensemble, sponsored by Equity

The Belle’s Stratagem, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
“The cast of this stylish, colourful comedy took it close to pantomime in their occasional breaking of the fourth wall. But they retained an intense theatricality in a series of generous performances that served both the comedy – with brilliant understanding of its rhythm – and the more serious points in a script that celebrates women as the driving force of its narrative.” (Thom Dibdin, The Stage)

Best Director

Murat Daltaban, Rhinoceros, Edinburgh International Festival and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with DOT Theatre, Istanbul

“The nomination of Murat Daltaban for his production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros has a particular significance. The play is a powerful warning about the dangers of conformity, of a mass succumbing to a social miasma that robs us of our culture, our freedom and, ultimately, our humanity. The times in which we live can feel like the 1930s with the film running slightly slower. That is particularly true of Murat’s homeland Turkey, where freedom of thought and expression, not least the freedoms of theatremakers, are currently under serious threat.

Rhinoceros composer Oguz Kaplangi and director Murat Daltaban with presenter Blythe Duff a the CATS in Perth Theatre. Pic Graeme Hart

“Murat Daltaban’s beautifully crafted production of Ionesco’s absurdist classic succeeded in capturing simultaneously the quasi-surreal craziness, the midnight dark humour and the sharp social allegory of the play. Brilliantly cast, perfectly paced and impressively integrated, in terms of the combination of its performative, visual and aural elements, his unforgettable production bore the hallmark of the director as master craftsman.” (Mark Brown, Sunday Herald and Daily Telegraph)

Best Design, sponsored by the Scottish Drama Training Network

Jamie Harrison (co-designer), Rebecca Hamilton (co-designer and lead model maker), Simon Wilkinson (lighting designer), Flight, Vox Motus in association with Beacon Arts Centre, commissioned by Edinburgh International Festival.

“This sumptuous installation fitted no easy category. It was like a live graphic novel or a visual radio play or the kind of optical experiment the Victorians would have delighted in, sitting at the interface of magic and mechanics. The audience sat at a one-person booth at the side of a giant rotating cylinder watching a series of miniature tableaux, each boxed in like a frame in a comic book: desert landscapes and dark oceans, tiny figures picking even tinier fruit, ominous expressionist tower blocks and bleak motorways at night. All of it was lit like a miniature theatre with the tiniest of light sources by Simon Wilkison. It was as exquisite as it was genre defying.” (Mark Fisher, The Guardian)

Best Music and Sound

Oğuz Kaplangi (composer, sound designer), Rhinoceros,  Edinburgh International Festival and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with DOT Theatre, Istanbul

“Eastern sounds and whirling Turkish dance-rhythms played on a range of instruments and mixed with live foley on stage from Oğuz Kaplangi, added a haunting and subtle beauty to this outstanding production.” (Irene Brown, edinburghguide.com)

Best Technical Presentation, sponsored by BECTU

Flight, Vox Motus in association with Beacon Arts Centre, commissioned by Edinburgh International Festival.

“Vox Motus’s Edinburgh Festival show, Flight, used pre-recorded voices and soundtrack to accompany a revolving diorama to tell the story of two refugees fleeing to Europe. Every single element was an impressive technical achievement, adding up to an extraordinary and unique theatrical experience.” (Anna Burnside, Daily Record)

Best Production for Children and Young People sponsored by Young Scot

Space Ape, Andy Cannon and Red Bridge

“A boyhood fascination with the 1969 Moon Landing is the starting point for Space Ape, Andy Cannon’s utterly engaging solo show in which science and imagination take flight together in a wishful- thinking story about a girl, a chimpanzee and a manned mission to Mars. The message – and not just for space travellers? Dare to dream, and boldly go!” (Mary Brennan, The Herald)

Best New Play

Peter Arnott, The Monarch of the Glen, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

“Peter Arnott’s The Monarch of the Glen is not just an affectionate adaptation of a much-loved classic but serves both as a brilliant satire of Scottish clichés and a witty look at the state of the Scottish nation. It might be set in the past, but this is a multi-layered play that cleverly looks at Scotland’s place in the modern world.” (Michael Cox, Across the Arts)

Best Production

RhinocerosEdinburgh International Festival and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with DOT Theatre, Istanbul

“Sometimes, a show appears that not only captures the moment, but takes full possession of it, and slams it straight through the goalposts of the time we live in; and Murat Daltaban’s brilliant production of Rhinoceros – Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 satirical masterpiece, in which a “civilised” city makes a rapid descent into complete social collapse as its residents turn one by one into rampaging rhinoceroses – was one of those shows.

“It made a thrilling start to the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival theatre programme, bringing together brilliant design, music and lighting with a series of superb performances to create a show full of blazing theatrical energy and wit; as well as of controlled terror at what may happen next, in a word where Ionesco’s vision seems more timely than ever.” (Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman.)


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