Life According to Saki receives Carol Tambor trophy

Carol Tambor presents the Carol Tabor award to Atticist Productions for Life According To Saki. Picture: Scott Louden
Carol Tambor presents the Carol Tabor award to Atticist Productions for Life According To Saki. Picture: Scott Louden
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He was a Scottish short story writer who offered a satirical commentary on Edwardian society and culture.

Now a new play inspired by the comedy creations of Hector Hugh Munro and his death during the First World War is heading for New York after winning one of the most coveted Fringe awards.

A brand new theatre company in London – Atticist – has claimed the coveted Carol Tambor Award with its debut production, part of the C Venues line-up at the Fringe.

The prize was presented at the climax of the final Scotsman Fringe Awards ceremony this year in the Famous Spiegeltent, which saw two other shows secure slots at Australia’s biggest celebrations of the arts.

Life According to Saki is set in the trenches of the Somme, where Munro was killed a century ago. Former River City star David Paisley plays him in the show, which will be staged in New York in February and March.

The play, written by children’s author Katherine Rundell, focuses on the stories of a soldier, Saki, the pen name used by Munro, who is said to have influenced Noel Coward, PG Wodehouse and AA Milne.

The award it won was instigated 13 years ago by philanthropist, portrait painter and theatre-lover Carol Tambor.

She said: “The play stood out because of its incredible polish.

“The persistent contrast of tone, as well as time, was fascinating. I was never sure whether the characters would say something cruel or funny – often both.

“It’s incredible how Katherine was able to bring to life Saki and his tales, which I didn’t know at all.”

Director Jessica Lazar said: “We were so touched and overwhelmed even to be on the shortlist for this award. It’s always lovely when anyone likes your show. To get this kind of support for a really young company like ours is just incredible.”

Meanwhile, two plays shared the Holden Street Theatres Award, which will see them staged at Adelaide Fringe.

Irish actress Amy McAllister, who has appeared in BBC drama Call the Midwife, portrays a transgender teenager in Scorch at Summerhall. Henry Naylor, head writer on the cult TV series Spitting Image, is the creator of Angel, a play at the Gilded Balloon based on the true story of a crack female soldier in Syria.

Pleasance show We Are Ian, which is set amid Manchester’s 1980s acid house scene, will head over the Border after winning the Brighton Fringe Award.

Excerpts from two of the musical hits of the Fringe – Counting Sheep and Glasgow Girls – were staged during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Frankie Boyle has warned that television comedy in Britain has been set back decades because it is so risk averse. The Glasgow comic told the Edinburgh TV Festival that the industry had become “stale” due to an avoidance of alternative comedy, a culture of box-ticking and an obsession with audience figures.