City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

10th CATS Awards Recognise Cream of Scottish Theatre Crop

By Irene Brown - Posted on 10 June 2013

10th CATS Awards Recepients

Glittering excitement galore at the Traverse Theatre on Sunday 09 June! Not only was it the Traverse Theatre’s 50th birthday party, but it was the 10th CATS’ (Critics' Award for Theatre) Award ceremony, hosted as ever by CATS convenor, Joyce McMillan, with her usual cheerful authority. Adding to the day’s glamour and bringing his unique style and casual panache as this year’s guest presenter was our own stellar playwright and artist, John Byrne. A more apposite choice for this auspicious sell-out event would be hard to imagine.

“The last twelve months have seen an astonishing array of theatrical productions from one-man shows to all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas,” says CATS co-convenor, Joyce McMillan. “That nine different productions are recognised in the ten award categories at this year’s CATS speaks volumes about the calibre of work being produced across the country.”

This year’s special CATS Whiskers Award went to Vicky Featherstone, the inaugural artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, and was collected by Maureen Beattie in her absence due to Vicky’s already busy schedule at the Royal Court. As CATS co-convenor, Mark Fisher says, “The role of the National Theatre of Scotland as producer and co-producer over the last seven years has been seminal. In recognition of the contribution to Scottish theatre that Vicky Featherstone made in her time with the NTS we are delighted to present her with a CATS Whiskers Award.”

Vicky Featherstone herself generously said in response to her award, “We are all the cat’s whiskers, every person who bought a ticket, stood in the cold, uttered a word on stage, made one idea come to life, every person who has worked with us. Congratulations to all who shared the early years of the National Theatre of Scotland's journey with me. This is for all of us. And good luck too for the next precious part of that journey. I can't wait to be amazed.”

The Best Male Performance Award this year went to Alan Cumming for “an unforgettable, bravura performance” in the National Theatre of Scotland’s one-man Macbeth, “one of the most memorable moments in Scottish theatre this year.” Speaking from New York, where the play is currently running, Cumming said, “I’m very grateful to the Scottish theatre critics, especially as Macbeth is the thing I am most proud of in my whole career. Thank you very much, it really means a lot to me for something I feel so proud of to be honoured by my country.” (See video link to Alan’s speech

The Best Female Performance Award went to former Taggart star, Blythe Duff, for a “thrillingly ambiguous and unsentimental performance in which she never let us be certain whether she was an innocent victim or a calculating psychopath.” Duff played convicted husband-killer, Fay Black, meeting her estranged daughter for the first time in 15 years in Iron, a Firebrand Theatre Company production in association with Heart of Hawick.

The hotly contested Best Production Award, in which five rather than the usual four productions were shortlisted, went to Stella Quines for The List, starring Maureen Beattie “a production that was perfectly formed in every delicate detail, like a Faberge egg."

Perth Theatre’s production of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer won a Best Director Award for Rachel O'Riordan, cementing her position as one of the finest and most visionary directors in the country. “O'Riordan by-passed any temptation to keep things merely ordinary, opting instead for a fearless approach which allowed her all-male cast to soar in what was clearly a labour of love.” That all-male cast of five actors picked up the Best Ensemble Award for performances “that fitted together in a way that really sustained the audience’s belief in the weird, off-kilter world of that play.”

In a year when the Traverse Theatre celebrates 50 years of supporting new Scottish writing it was fitting that the Best New Play Award should be won by one of its productions. Rob Drummond’s Quiz Show was “a twisting, duplicitous script which created an elaborate game show, in all its jollity and public glare, before moving off into altogether more unforgiving territory. Audience members laughed along at first before realising their complicity has been there from the beginning, woven into every word of the script.”

The considerable contribution to theatre for children and young people being made by the macrobert, Stirling was underlined as it won the award in this category for the second year running. Its production of Sonata for a Man and a Boy “took the audience on a journey that was funny, inventive and ultimately profound.”

The Best Music and Sound Award in 2013 went to Hilary Brooks, music director of the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, for the “sheer skill, brilliance and ambition” in her full-scale, Hollywood musical production of White Christmas. Meanwhile, the Best Design Award went to the team behind Ménage à Trois, a production by the National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with Claire Cunningham and Gail Sneddon of a "greatly moving and poetic work,” which was “a thing of wonder whose promise chimed perfectly with its reality”.

The Best Technical Presentation Award went to Random Accomplice’s The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam. Jamie McDonald's fluid black and white animations “added a whole new - and appropriate, and clever - dimension to the story of the orphaned teenage boy and his obsession with comic book heroes.”

The entire day was a wonderful affirmation of the joy and power of live theatre, and particularly that theatre in Scotland. Here’s to the year ahead!

The CATS judging panel for 2013 was made up of: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Irene Brown (Edinburgh Guide), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Anna Burnside (The Independent), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (, Robert Dawson Scott (The Times), Thom Dibdin (The Stage and Annals of the Edinburgh Stage), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Allan Radcliffe (The Times), Gareth K Vile (The List) and Joy Watters (

CATS would like to thank the following organisations for their continuing generous support of the annual awards: BBC Scotland Radio Drama, Equity, The Mackintosh Foundation, The List, Northern Light, STV and W&P Longreach and David Johnson without whom the awards would not have been possible. 

photocredit: Colin Hattersley Photography