Edinburgh’s Lyceum and Glasgow’s Citizen’s take lions’ share at 2016 CATS Awards.

At the annual award ceremony of the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland held on Sunday 12 June 2016, Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre and Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre shared the top honours. This year acclaimed stage and screen actor Daniela Nardini, who will make a welcome return to the stage at the Lyceum with Jumpy in the forthcoming season, and comedian, writer and actor Sanjeev Kohli who wowed audiences as Navid in Still Game Live, were a terrific double act on stage to present the awards.

The 2016 CATS ceremony was kicked off with the announcement of the CATS’ Whiskers award that this time went to former long-term artistic director of Stellar Quines, Muriel Romanes, for her vision and determination which have been a tremendous force in Scottish theatre-making as a whole. Her award was collected by friend and leading Scottish actor Maureen Beattie who read thanks from Romanes who is currently working in Canada.

The Lyceum’s year’s production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot took the top award of Best Production with its stellar cast of Brian Cox, Bill Paterson, John Bett and Benny Young winning it Best Ensemble. CATS' co-convenor Joyce McMillan said, “The success of Beckett’s perfectly poised drama depends on every element of the production working in harmony, and each of the characters – Vladimir, Estragon, their visitors Pozzo and Lucky, and even the little boy who appears to tell them that Mr Godot will not come today – supporting all the others. The cast in Mark Thomson’s production achieved this balance perfectly, and offered a masterclass in magnificent acting.” Rightly, and charmingly, the two young boys who took turns to play the little boy joined the big names onstage (all except Brian Cox who is filming) and got to collect the award itself.

The east /west divide was kept in check with Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre picking up six awards that were shared equally between two outstanding shows This Restless House winning Best Director, Best Female Performance and Best New Play and Lanark: A Life in Three Acts winning Best Male Performance, Best Design and Best Technical Presentation.

This Restless House, Zinnie Harris’s epic and outstanding reworking of The Oresteia, won her Best New Play, with Dominic Hill winning his fifth CATS Best Director award that recognised his bringing all the complex elements of the show together into a triumphant and exhilarating whole. Best Female Performance award, sponsored by STV, went to Pauline Knowles for “a remarkable performance which ran the gamut of human, and particularly female, experience, and in which she embodied both Everywoman and the haughtiest of aristocrats” (Mark Brown, Sunday Herald/Telegraph). This award, a first CATS for Knowles, was collected by fellow actor Keith Fleming as Pauline is currently in Shanghai performing in The Garden, a sound Festival commission from John and Zinnie Harris.

Laura Hopkins, Nigel Edwards and Simon Wainwright won the Best Design award for between them making the seemingly impossible possible in bringing Alasdair Gray’s dystopian vision, Lanark: A Life in Three Acts, to life while “[its] extraordinary blend of live action, lighting and sound, animation and projection” (Allan Radcliffe, The Times) won it Best Technical Presentation award, sponsored by BECTU. Sandy Grierson, who took the play’s title role “[proving] once again how his powerful and charismatic presence can hold a stage” (Neil Cooper, The Herald), picked up his second Best Male Performance CATS award, sponsored by the Scottish Drama Training Network.

Rob Drummond’s immersive, interactive and thought provoking look at how we deal with artificial intelligence, Uncanny Valley, that was a Borderline Theatre co-production with the Gaiety Theatre, commissioned by Edinburgh International Science Festival working in partnership with Imaginate, picked up the Best Production for Children and Young People award, sponsored by Young Scot. As Mary Brennan of The Herald says, “Issue-based theatre is rarely as witty, thought-provoking or as open to audience reactions as this piece for children and young people.” Best Music and Sound sponsored by Guitar Guitar, went to Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, that is somewhere between a rollicking and enthusiastically performed music gig and a play from the National Theatre of Scotland, bringing the NTS tally of CATS wins to a mighty 30!

At what is now a prestigious date Scotland’s theatrical calendar, the good health of Scottish theatre was toasted in sparkling style by sartorially splendid stars, supporters and guests alike at the party afterwards as we all look forward to another exciting year from the stalls and the stage!

CATS is supported by: The List, The Mackintosh Foundation and BBC Scotland Radio Drama and their sponsors STV (Best Female Performance), Equity (Best Ensemble), Guitar Guitar (Best Music and Sound) and Young Scot (Best Production for Children and Young People) were joined by two new award sponsors. BECTU (Best Technical Presentation) and the Scottish Drama Training Network (Best Male Performance)