The fourth annual Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland were presented last night (Sunday 4 June 2006) at Discovery Point, Dundee, in a special ceremony sponsored by the City of Discovery Campaign.

The awards were set up in 2003 for the year 2002-03 and covered five categories; Best Production, Best Male Performance, Best Female Performance, Best Design and Best New Play. Since 2003-4 they have been awarded for five additional new categories: Best Director, Best Technical Presentation, Best Children's Show, Best Ensemble Production and Best Music.

The newly-formed National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) picked up six awards, while David Harrower's Blackbird (starring Jodhi May and Roger Allam – pictured), which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival prior to a West End transfer, won Best New Play.

The full list of winners and nominees is as follows.


BEST MALE PERFORMANCE
Liam Brennan for Tales from Hollywood by Christopher Hampton, directed by Ian Grieve at Perth Theatre. According to the critic judges: "Liam gave a typically understated performance. Rather than indulge in cheap theatrics, Brennan's hangdog approach never slipped into cliché but instead gave a brilliantly sustained portrayal of a vulnerable but never sentimental man given a close up view of a wild and crazy world".
Other nominees: Dugald Bruce-Lockhart for Faust at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh; Andrew Clark for The Devil’s Larder, Grid Iron; Tommy Mullins for Stacy, Hush Productions.

BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Cara Kelly for Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney, directed by Gregory Thompson for the Citizens’ Theatre Company, Glasgow. “It was a mesmerising performance, warm-hearted, generous and tragic".
Other nominees: Carol Ann Crawfors, Further Than the Furthest Thing, Prime Productions; Jill Riddiford, A Kind of Alaska, the Arches Theatre Company; Cath Whitefield, Home: East Lothian, NTS.

BEST DIRECTION
Gregory Thompson for Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney for the Citizens’ Theatre Company. “Rising star director Gregory Thompson presented an utterly memorable and almost frighteningly profound production.”
Other nominees: Ian Grieve, Tales from Hollywood, Perth Theatre; Ben Harrison, The Devil’s Larder, Grid Iron; Jemima Levick, A Christmas Carol, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.

BEST ENSEMBLE
The cast of Roam directed by Ben Harrison for Grid Iron/National Theatre of Scotland. "Staged at Edinburgh Airport, Grid Iron's and National Theatre of Scotland's Roam, contained a multi-national ensemble performance of both professionals and amateurs, which entranced, aroused and transported us into worlds of flight as they recreated its romance and frustration, or by it escaped to freedom or holidays."
Other nominees: The Devil’s Larder; Tales from Hollywood; Ubu The King.

BEST NEW PLAY
Blackbird by David Harrower, directed by Peter Stein at the Edinburgh International Festival. “Harrower dared to bring the taboo subject of paedophilia to the stage - and contrived to do so in a manner which was at once meaningful, mature and challenging, but which refused to give an inch to those who thrive on moral panic and outrage. All four of the nominated plays looked at some aspect of the relationship between sex and power. Harrower not only did so most profoundly, addressing issues that our society is usually incapable of perceiving with anything apart from hysteria while maintaining a deeply moral stance, but he also gifted to his actors and their audiences a pair of characters of great depth and sophistication.”
Other nominees: Faust adapted by John Clifford; The Importance of Being Alfred by Louise Welsh; Wired by Davey Anderson.

BEST CHILDREN’S SHOW
Home: East Lothian written and directed by Gill Robertson for the National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with the Brunton and East Lothian Council. "Home: East Lothian took a familiar fairy-tale - Hansel and Gretel - and quite literally turned it out-of-doors into a dank November woodland. The result? Site-specific theatre that was state of the art make-believe, a brilliantly scary adventure for children and their adults.”
Other nominees: Cinderella; Dr Korczak’s Example (both Dundee Rep); Mancub (Vanishing Point).

BEST DESIGN
Karen Tennent for Home: East Lothian.
Other nominees: Tom Piper for Ubu the King; Clifton Doliver and Joan Hickson for Roam; Philip Witcomb for Cinderella.

BEST MUSIC
Hugh Nankivell for Home: Shetland directed by Wils Wilson for the National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with the Shetland Islands Council. "Hugh Nankivell's poignant use of music and sound was beautifully attuned to Wilson's atmospheric production. The sound of Scottish fiddle music emanating from the chests of ghost-like work suits was as memorable as it was original.”
Other nominees: David Paul Jones for The Devil’s Larder; Philip Pinsky for Roam; Robert Pettigrew for Nighthawks.

BEST TECHNICAL PRESENTATION
Roam for Grid Iron/National Theatre of Scotland. "Roam turned a logistical nightmare into a technical dream".
Other nominees: Falling (Poorboy/NTS); Faust; Kind Hearts and Coronets (Pitlochry Festival Theatre).

BEST THEATRE PRODUCTION
Roam for Grid Iron/National Theatre of Scotland. "2006 has been a good year for theatre not in theatres and for the new National Theatre of Scotland. So it's not entirely surprising that the winning production combines those two. Roam was hugely ambitious in every sense - as a play not just an event in an unusual venue - and despite enormous difficulties, Grid Iron pulled it off. But they would not have been able to work on this scale without the support of the NTS. A good result all round.”
Other nominees: Faust; Molly Sweeney; Home: East Lothian; Roam.

- by Caroline Ansdell