The 2022 CATS winners were announced at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow on Sunday 11 September. Special guest presenter was acclaimed actor, singer and Gaelic activist, Dolina MacLennan, one of the original cast of John McGrath’s seminal The Cheviot, The Stag and Black, Black Oil..
© Infinite Blue Designs
Here are the winners of the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2022.
CATS Whiskers Award
An occasional award given in recognition of an outstanding contribution to theatre in Scotland that isn’t already reflected in the other awards.
And this year’s CATS Whiskers went to the entire SCOTTISH THEATRE COMMUNITY for their resilience, dedication and vision throughout the Covid pandemic.
Best Female Performance
Nicole Cooper (Medea), Medea (Bard in the Botanics)
““Nicole Cooper gave an unforgettable performance as the wronged, powerfully human demigoddess Medea. In the intimacy of the Kibble Palace, she was, by turns, deliciously sarcastic, gloriously outraged and almost unbearably anguished, as she sought to persuade us, the audience (standing in for the people of Corinth), of the justice of her case. However, in her moments of greatest grief and anger, she turned from us, emphasising her outsider status by speaking in Greek. Her insistence – even as she contemplated the murder of her offspring – upon the unbreakable blood bond between a mother and her children still brings a shudder even now.”Mark Brown, (Sunday National/Daily Telegraph)
Best Male Peformnce
Lorn Macdonald as Segismundo, in Life is a Dream (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh)
“In one of the landmark productions of the year that saw the return of live performance in Scotland, the Lyceum launched its 2021 autumn season with a dazzling production of Jo Clifford’s inspired 1998 version of Pedro Calderon’ Golden Age drama Life Is A Dream, specially updated for the occasion. The play offers a both breath-taking journey through the interconnected worlds of theatre, politics, philosophy, love and war, and an intensely self-reflexive drama about the power of imagination; and at the centre of Wils Wilson’s production stood – or rather leapt, crawled, prowled and soared – Lorn Macdonald’s intensely physical and charismatic performance as the Polish Prince Segismundo, who has spent his life chained like an animal in a lonely tower, and who, after his release, soon becomes convinced that life, with its dizzying reversals of fortune, is no more than an illusion.
Since he graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015, Lorn Macdonald has fast been establishing his reputation on stage and screen as one of Scotland’s most gifted young actors; and his stunning performance, at the heart of the Lyceum’s wonderful Life Is A Dream company, fully confirmed his status as a leading actor of his generation, with a thrilling career to come.”Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman)
Wils Wilson, Life is a Dream (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh)
“At a point when the world was emerging from lockdown, Wils Wilson bounded back with a glorious celebration of theatricality. Her staging of Jo Clifford’s version of Calderon’s Spanish Golden Age drama had tremendous fun blurring the line between the real and the imagined, not only because we had been deprived of live theatre for so long, but also because it highlighted the play’s themes of artifice and pretence. Wilson’s production was dynamically presented on the Royal Lyceum’s temporary extended stage, vigorously acted and a joy to watch.”Mark Fisher (The Guardian)
The Comedy of Errors (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow)
“There’s something special about seeing a Shakespeare production that captures the bawdy nonsense that an audience would have enjoyed in the 17th century. This fantastic bunch of actors, plus an amazing musician, did exactly that. They made light work of every mistaken identity-driven twist and turn and never forgot to make it fun.”Anna Burnside (Daily Record, Sunday Mail, Glasgow Live)
Georgia McGuinness and Alex Berry (set and costumes) and Kai Fischer (lighting), Life is a Dream (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh)
Playing on a raised stage that thrust out into the Lyceum auditorium, the brilliantly lit set of Life is a Dream managed to represent both the cramped incarceration of its protagonist, Segismundo, and the capacious palace of his Royal mother, Basilio. A crucible of terror and conflict, it lent itself brilliantly to the production’s atmosphere of claustrophobia. The costumes and make-up were, likewise, a memorable evocation of aristocratic power and disconcerting chaos.Mark Brown, (Sunday National/Daily Telegraph)
Best Music & Sound
John Kielty (musical director), Garry Boyle (sound design), Calum and Rory MacDonald (songs), The Stamping Ground (Raw Material and Eden Court Theatre)
“The songs of Runrig are highly popular, but that was no guarantee they would lend themselves to a musical. The team behind The Stamping Ground not only brought out the stirring passions of Calum and Rory MacDonald’s songs, but also created arrangements that were subtle and tender – and always at the service of Morna Young’s script.“Mark Fisher (The Guardian)
Best Technical Presentation
Orphans (National Theatre of Scotland)
“The grand sweeping set of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Orphans created a convincing cityscape of life size tenements. To have them open up to reveal their insides: the bars and the kitchens called for immense technical prowess, but adding the complications of an on-stage fairground which had to halt, leaving the leading actress stuck at the top of a ride, while keeping her safe, was altogether another level.“Thom Dibdin (The Stage, AllEdinburgh Theatre)
Best Production for Children and Young People
I Am Tiger (Perth Theatre and Imaginate)
“In I Am Tiger, from Perth Theatre and Imaginate, writer Oliver Emanuel showed that Scottish theatre for children really has grown up. It has the guts to tackle the big topics – in this case the suicide of an older brother – with understanding and in depth, while remaining accessible to young people. In a truly brilliant production, Lu Kemp directed the wonderful Chloe-Ann Tylor with nuance on Jamie Vartan cleverly designed set, all beautifully lit by Simon Wilkinson.”Thom Dibdin (The Stage, AllEdinburgh Theatre)
Best New Play
Adventures with the Painted People, by David Greig (Pitlochry Festival Theatre)
“David Greig’s Adventures with the Painted People isn’t just an excellent script but proved to be the right script for such a trying time. Described as ‘clever’, ‘evocative’ and ‘endearing’, Greig’s script depicts a culture clash story set 2,000 years ago yet tells it through a refreshingly contemporary lens that is filled with rich language and humour.”Michael Cox (Across the Arts)
Medea (Bard in the Botanics)
“The years of the pandemic have been traumatic ones both for theatre and in the wider world, as the crisis exposed and often worsened the many inequalities of race, gender and class that still persist in our societies; and the rage still felt by women, at the continuing violence and inequality they suffer, was fully captured in Kathy McKean’s fierce new version of Euripides’ Medea, presented by Bard In The Botanics at the Kibble Palace this summer. Nicole Cooper delivered a stunning central performance as Medea, the granddaughter of a god who simply cannot accept her brutal rejection by her husband Jason, without taking the ultimate revenge. And more than 2000 years on – in a version that brings a sharp 21st century edge to the story, and a superb production by Bard In The Botanics artistic director Gordon Barr – we found ourselves gasping once again at the mighty radicalism of Euripides’s drama, and at its insight into how patriarchal power trades on the force of mother-love, to keep women forever in their place.”Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman)
As well as the category sponsors listed above, the CATS Awards are also generously supported by:
The CATS judging panel for the 2022 Awards comprised Mark Brown (Sunday National and The Daily Telegraph), Anna Burnside (Daily Record/Sunday Mail), Michael Cox (Across the Arts), Thom Dibdin (The Stage and AllEdinburghTheatre.com), Mark Fisher (The Guardian), Joyce McMillan (The Scotsman), David Pollock (The Independent and Dundee Courier) and Allan Radcliffe (The Times).