2018 Winners

Winners were announced at Perth Theatre on Sunday 10 June. Special guest presenter was Blythe Duff (right)

Best Male Performance

Robert Jack (Berenger), Rhinoceros, Edinburgh 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.

Best Female Performance

Sponsored by STV

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

When Jessica Hardwick first came onstage in 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. 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.

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.”

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 Daltaban’s homeland Turkey, where freedom of thought and expression, not least the freedoms of theatremakers, are currently under serious threat. Daltaban’s beautifully crafted production 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.

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.

Best Music and Sound

Oğuz Kaplangı (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.

Best Technical Presentation

Sponsored by BECTU

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

Vox Motus’s Edinburgh International Festival show 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.

Best Production for Children and Young People

Sponsored by Young Scot

Space Ape, Andy Cannon and Red Bridge Arts

A boyhood fascination with the 1969 Moon landing is the starting point for 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!

Best New Play

Peter Arnott, The Monarch of the Glen (adapted from the novel by Compton Mackenzie), Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Peter Arnott’s play 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.

Best Production

Rhinoceros, Edinburgh 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.

The CATS judging panel for 2018 was made up of: Mary Brennan (The Herald), Irene Brown (edinburghguide.com), Mark Brown (The Sunday Herald and the Daily Telegraph), Paul F Cockburn (BroadwayBaby), Neil Cooper (The Herald), Michael Cox (Across the Arts), Thom Dibdin (The Stage and AllEdinburghTheatre.com), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), David Pollock (The Independent), Allan Radcliffe (The Times) and Joy Watters (Across the Arts).