City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Roadkill Tops Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2011


By Irene Brown - Posted on 13 June 2011

Roadkill wins a CAT

The Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland (C.A.T.S.) 2011 presentation and party was held on Sunday 12 June in the Festival Theatre and a splendid affair it was! Anyone who enjoys a bit of star spotting, especially Scottish star spotting, would be in heaven.   They were out in force in their very glad rags enjoying the pre-presentation party in the Johnnie Walker lounge overlooking the South Bridge and listening to the Jazz Bar Quartet in the background – pinkies up, Proseccos in hand!

The event was hosted by Scotsman critic, Joyce McMillan, who is one of the judging panel and the awards were presented by the ever effervescent, Clare Grogan.

Each judge (Mary Brennan, Mark Brown, Neil Cooper, Michael Cox, Robert Dawson Scott, Thom Dibdin, Mark Fisher and Gareth K Vile) took it in turn to announce each category. The stage was sentinelled by two big beribboned black cats with each category nomination coming up on a screen like the odd one out format on HIGNFY behind them and the announcer giving a brief (or not so brief!) résumé of the nominees.

The outrageously fabulous Traverse Christmas show, The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, won Best Ensemble and Best New Play.

Last year’s Fringe First winner, Catherine Wheels’ magical production for 2-4 year olds, White, led the field for awards with Best Design, Best Technical Presentation, and Best Production for Children. The children's theatre specialist is based in Edinburgh.

Mercy Ojelade won Best Female Performance for her role as Mary in Ankur Productions’ Roadkill which also won Best Production Award. Roadkill had six nominations.

Muriel Romanes won Best Director for Stellar Quines’ excellent Age of Arousal. Best Male Performance went to David Burrell for his role as Sweeney Todd and the Best Music and Sound was shared by Hilary Brooks for Dundee Rep’s Sweeney Todd and Alasdair Macrae for the NTS’s  utterly stupendous The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

 While the day took the broad format of other award ceremonies, there was a real warmth and enthusiasm with a lack of pretention in the short and generous speeches throughout the proceedings that seemed particularly Scottish. It was a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a thoroughly affirming day for Scottish theatre!

THE CATS NOMINATIONS and WINNERS (in bold) 2011

Best Male Performance

  • Winner: David Birrell as Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Dundee Rep Theatre
  • Alex Ferns as Johnny Byrne, The Hard Man, Scottish Theatres Consortium
  • Peter Forbes as Arnolphe, Educating Agnes, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
  • Ian Smith, My Hands Are Dancing But My Heart Is Cold, Ian Smith

CATS co-convener and theatre critic for The Guardian,Mark Fisher comments: “Played by David Birrell, Sweeney Todd was a figure of unruffled determination: cool, enigmatic and self-contained. He was all the more chilling because he took no pleasure in his victories. And he sang beautifully.” 

Best Female Performance, sponsored by STV:

  • Kate Dickie as Jackie, Any Given Day, Traverse Theatre Company
  • Blythe Duff as Helen, Good With People, A Play, a Pie and a Pint, Paines Plough
  • Gemma McElhinney as Duck, The Monster in the Hall, TAG
  • Winner: Mercy Ojelade as Mary, Roadkill, Ankur Productions/Pachamama Productions

CATS jurist and Theatre critic for The Herald, Neil Cooper said: “It's easy to fake things on stage, but every second of Mercy Ojelade's performance as Mary, the young Nigerian girl trafficked in Roadkill, Ankur Arts and Pachamama's harrowing site-specific piece, was utterly, heartbreakingly believable. The transformation from a wide-eyed innocent arriving in a strange land to a brutalised young woman forced to grow up too soon was at times painful to watch, but Ojelade's fearless and unflinching performance was a captivating experience that audiences will never - and, in light of similar real life situations going on right now, must never - forget.”

Best Ensemble, sponsored by Equity:

  • Age of Arousal, Stellar Quines Theatre Company /Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
  • Nothing to See Here, National Theatre of Scotland/Aberdeen City Council
  • The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland
  • Winner: The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, Traverse Theatre Company/Belgrade Theatre, Coventry/English Touring Theatre

CATS jurist and theatre critic for the Sunday Herald and Daily Telegraph, Mark Brown said: “It is no exaggeration to describe this show as the most brilliant piece of Christmas theatre to have been staged in Scotland in a generation, and that is down, in very large part, to the immense talents, and the boisterous, comic energy, of the ensemble. One might have taken particular pleasure in Peter Forbes’s apparently pregnant Porthos or Cliff Burnett’s Aramis – who one still remembers as a “cross between Arsene Wenger and Peter Stringfellow” – but the truth is that this extraordinary production had kids and adults in raptures because every actor in Dominic Hill’s superb ensemble was so wonderfully in tune with both Chris Hannan’s fantastic script and the actors around them.”

Best Director

  • Cora Bissett, Roadkill, Ankur Productions/Pachamama Productions
  • James Brining, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Dundee Rep Theatre
  • Winner: Muriel Romanes, Age of Arousal, Stellar Quines Theatre Company/Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
  • Mark Thomson, The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company

CATS jurist and Theatre critic for The Skinny, Gareth K. Vile, said: “The diversity of approaches taken by this year's nominees represents the imagination and dynamism of Scottish theatre, from re-imagining of a classic through to a site-specific examination of a very contemporary problem. Yet our winner, Muriel Romanes, for Age of Arousal by Stellar Quines Theatre Company and the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, demonstrated how the historical can shed light on the modern, and that political seriousness need not mean humourlessness.”

Best Design

  • Janet Bird (set and costumes) and Jeanine Davies (lighting), Age of Arousal, Stellar Quines Theatre Company/Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
  • Candice Edmonds and Jamie Harrison (set), The Not-So-Fatal Death of Grandpa Fredo, Vox Motus
  • Winners: Shona Reppe (set and costumes) and Craig Fleming (lighting), White, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company
  • Colin Richmond (set) and Chris Davey (lighting), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Dundee Rep Theatre

CATS jurist and theatre critic for The Evening News and The Stage, Thom Dibdin, said: “Great theatre design does not just illuminate its text, it adds to it. Shona Reppe's design and costumes for Catherine Wheel's White went one step further again. She created a white world of such invention that it could have existed on its own. But then you would have missed each intricate new detail as the show developed, the discoveries in each birdbox, the hilarity of using a toilet pedestal mat as an apron. Lighting white can be hell and Craig Flemming's simple design ensured that the lighting waxed and waned with the passing of the day, Reppe's birdhouses lit up from the inside and a mirror-ball moon threw slivers of reflected light across the scene.”

Best Music and Sound

  • Winner: Hilary Brooks, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Dundee Rep Theatre
  • Nikola Kodjabashia, The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, Traverse Theatre Company/Belgrade Theatre, Coventry/English Touring Theatre
  • Winner: Alasdair Macrae, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland
  • Michael John McCarthy, The Not-So-Fatal Death of Grandpa Fredo, Vox Motus

CATS jurist and Theatre critic for The Times and STV, Robert Dawson Scott, said: “We often end up comparing apples and pears but in the case of the music category this year it was more extreme than ever. How do you separate the challenge that Hilary Brooks had at Dundee, faced with one of the most demanding scores in all musical theatre to the challenge of writing new music, and combining that with much loved existing music to make something as wittily brilliant and contextually clever as Alsadair Macrae managed for Prudencia Hart. In the end, they were both tremendous achievements and we have decided that the Best Music And Sound category this year should be shared between Hilary Brooks and Ally Macrae.”

Best Technical Presentation, sponsored by Northern Light:

  • The Not-So-Fatal Death of Grandpa Fredo, Vox Motus
  • Orlando, Cryptic
  • Roadkill, Ankur Productions/Pachamama Productions
  • Winner: White, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company

CATS jurist and theatre critic for www.onstagescotland.co.uk, Michael Cox, said: “White’s technical artistry was not only a marvel to watch but was integral to the overall success of the production. From its sleight-of-hand tricks to its moving conclusion of seamlessly turning a white set into a massive celebration of colour, White’s technical execution not only proved that small effects can have a large impact but that excellence in technical presentation is as important to the success of a production as any other component.”

Best Production for Children and Young People

  • Beauty and the Beast, Citizens Theatre
  • Caged, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company
  • The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, Traverse Theatre Company/Belgrade Theatre, Coventry/English Touring Theatre
  • Winner: White, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company

CATS jurist and theatre critic for The Herald, Mary Brennan, said: “Good theatre is good theatre - whatever age group it’s intended for. White captivated pre-school tots with its ravishing transformation of an all-white world into a rainbow landscape. And if adults read the arrival of colour as a profound reflection on social values - well they too were totally smitten by the magical beauty of this show. How did they do it? It still remains a mystery - but it’s a winner.”

Best New Play, sponsored by W&P Longreach:

  • David Greig, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland
  • Winner: Chris Hannan, The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, Traverse Theatre Company/Belgrade Theatre, Coventry/English Touring Theatre
  • Conceived by Cora Bissett, text by Stef Smith, Roadkill, Ankur Productions/Pachamama Productions
  • Molly Taylor, Love Letters to the Public Transport System, National Theatre of Scotland

CATS co-convener and theatre critic for The Guardian, Mark Fisher said "Chris Hannan's version of the famous Alexandre Dumas adventure stories was anarchic, witty, intelligent, rude, irreligious and coarse. It had all the swashbuckling sword fights and knockabout humour you could wish for, but it also told a story of self-discovery that was deeply moving. It was a script that was genuinely for all the family."

Best Production:

  • Age of Arousal, Stellar Quines Theatre Company/Royal Lyceum Theatre Company
  • Winner: Roadkill, Ankur Productions/Pachamama Productions
  • The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Dundee Rep Theatre

CATS co-convener and theatre critic for The Scotsman, Joyce McMillan, said: "In the end, despite a terrific shortlist, there was no doubt about the outstanding choice as Best Production of 2010-2011. Roadkill, created by Cora Bissett and written by Stef Smith for Ankur Production and Pachamama, is a show that achieves the highest artistic standards in every area, from writing, acting and directing to design, sound and technical co-ordination. Even more importantly, though, it draws that artistic energy from the company's passion for its subject, and from their shared determination to make us aware of the scandal and tragedy of people-trafficking in our time - not as some distant problem in faraway places, but as something that is happening now, in the very fabric of our own cities, and perhaps even in the flat next door."

The CATS judging panel for 2011 is made up of: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (onstagescotland.co.uk), Robert Dawson Scott (The Times), Thom Dibdin (Edinburgh Evening News and The Stage), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), Gareth K Vile (The Skinny) and Joy Watters (The Courier).

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