2009 Winners

The seventh annual CATS, for the year 2008-09, were announced at 6pm on Sunday June 14 in a ceremony at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, with special guests Grant Stott and Faith Liddell.

Winners of the 2009 CATS with Faith Liddell (left) and Grant Stott (right). Photograph: Donald MacLeod

Best Male Performance

Matthew Zajac, The Tailor of Inverness, Dogstar Theatre

“For an actor to play an imaginary character is hard enough. But for an actor to recreate a real person, let alone one they’ve known since birth, is a remarkable feat. Matthew Zajac found out a lot more than he bargained for when he decreed to play his own father in The Tailor of Inverness. That he did so in this labour of love with compassion and grace, while never avoiding the pains they might involve, was a remarkable study of a remarkable man.”

Best Female Performance

Irene Macdougall, Martha, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Dundee Rep

“Irene Macdougall has been shortlisted twice before as the best actress in Scotland; it was only a matter of time before she won. But how fitting that she should win with this great monster of a part in every sense, especially after her terrific performances in other great American plays – Mrs Robinson in The Graduate and the Princess Kosmonopolis in Sweet Bird of Youth. Elizabeth Taylor did quite a decent turn as Martha a few years back; I think its fair to say that in James Brining’s generally top class production, Irene gave her a real run for her money.”

Best Ensemble

Interiors, Vanishing Point/Napoli Teatro Festival Italia/Mercadante Teatro Stabile di Napoli/Traverse Theatre in association with Lyric Hammersmith and Tron Theatre

“There was no production that demonstrated the definition of a strong ensemble better than Interiors. Every single performance was not only stellar but fully complemented everything else on stage. The attention to detail that every actor brought, not only to their own character but also in regard to relationships to other characters and their surroundings, was consistently mesmerising to watch. The result was a fully polished and realised performance where no one dominated and yet every single player shone.”

Best Director

Matthew Lenton, Interiors, Vanishing Point/Napoli Teatro Festival Italia/Mercadante Teatro Stabile di Napoli/Traverse Theatre in association with Lyric Hammersmith and Tron Theatre

“By choosing to physically retreat behind the fourth wall and setting the action in dumbshow, director Matthew Lenton ingeniously cut through the language barrier to offer up an intimate yet universal portrait of humanity both comic and heartbreaking that quite literally reminded us of theatre’s ability to provide a window on the world.”

Best Design

Alex Lowde (set) and Chris Davey (lighting), Beauty and the Beast, Dundee Rep

“Like Jemima Levick’s production as a whole, the set, costumes and lighting of this splendid presentation took us into dark and magical places, a million miles from the sugar-coated offerings of Disney. No one who saw the show will forget the brilliant costume for the bare-chested Beast.”

Best Music and Sound

Seylan Baxter, Lillias Kinsman-Blake and Rachel Newton, The Lasses, O, Rowan Tree Theatre

“There is a school of thought that theatre musicians, unlike Victorian children, should be heard and not seen. Not so in Rowan Tree’s The Lasses, O which opened with Seylan Baxter, Lillias Kinsman-Blake and Rachel Newton on stage. Two wind-buffeted, labour-panged, song-filled hours later, they had not left it for a second, but had helped create a world in which the play could live and breath. The play thrummed with music from start to finish. Music accompanied the action, provided backing for the songs and created a soundtrack that was woven into the production. But it is for the skill, wit and style with which it was performed and integrated into the play itself that the award goes to Seylan Baxter, Lillias Kinsman-Blake and Rachel Newton.”

Best Technical Presentation

Slick, Vox Motus/Tron Theatre

“A hugely ingenious small-scale show which used stumpy short-arsed puppets with live actors’ faces to convey the modern Gothic tale of wee Malcolm Biggar, all at sea in a world of depraved and greedy adults. Slick absolutely depended on split-second timing and perfectly-placed lighting to sustain its unique and unforgettable theatrical world, which combined the pathos of Oliver Twist with the savage satire of Viz magazine in a dark, wicked and explosively funny show.”

Best Production for Children and Young People

Liar, TAG and Sounds of Progress

“Traditional songs and modern story-telling come together vividly in a wonderfully perceptive piece about the pain caused by a family’s well-intentioned secrets and lies.”

Best New Play

Simon Stephens, Pornography, Traverse Theatre/Birmingham Rep

“Simon Stephens’ deftly written observation of contemporary culture avoided the old dramatic clichés of the banality of evil, instead concentrating upon the evil of banality. In Pornography, the everyday details of a modern, desperately alienated society accumulate, from throwaway tabloids to iPods and on to an internet information revolution that leaves us less knowledgeable than before to create a snapshot of a day when the atomisation of our culture leads inevitably to despair and violence. Brilliantly expressed through a series of voices, each more dispossessed than the last, regardless of creed or class, this piece amounts to an important commentary on the dilemma of folk caught within the reifying spectacle of late capitalism, without recourse to alternative ways of thinking.”

Best Production

Interiors, Vanishing Point/Napoli Teatro Festival Italia/Mercadante Teatro Stabile di Napoli/Traverse Theatre in association with Lyric Hammersmith and Tron Theatre

From left to right: Andrew Melville, Myra McFadyen and Sara Lazzaro in Vanishing Point Theatre Company’s “Interiors”

“Lenton’s highly original production managed to be both a silent comedy and a touching meditation on the transitory nature of life. It built into a beguiling piece of theatre that was sad, funny and heartbreakingly humane.”