It was the highly acclaimed swansong of theatre director Mark Thomson, who is soon to step down from the helm of one of Edinburgh’s best-known theatres after 13 years in the role.
Now his production of Waiting for Godot has scooped a top industry award after its run as part of the Royal Lyceum’s 50th anniversary celebrations this year.
The Samuel Beckett classic was been named Best Production at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (Cats) in a glittering ceremony yesterday. And its cast – Brian Cox, Bill Paterson, John Bett and Benny Young – won the Best Ensemble title.
The judges, led by The Scotsman’s theatre critic and co-convenor of Cats, Joyce McMillan, praised the play as a “lucid, precisely choreographed production” which “got under the skin of a modern classic”.
Meanwhile, Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre picked up six awards, shared equally between two shows: This Restless House and Lanark: A Life in Three Acts, a new stage adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s beloved work which also premiered at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
Dominic Hill won the best director award for the fifth time for This Restless House, while Pauline Knowles, who played Clytemnestra in the production, took the best female performance. Sandy Grierson, who played the title role in Lanark, won the best male performance gong, for a performance which critics described as “powerful and charismatic”.
Knowles’ award was collected by Keith Fleming as she is currently in Shanghai, China, performing in The Garden – a sound Festival commission by husband and wife writing, directing and composing team John and Zinnie Harris. CATS co-convenor Mark Fisher said: “Mark Thomson’s lucid, precisely choreographed production got under the skin of a modern classic, ensuring it was not just a star vehicle for two very well known actors, but a full-blooded ensemble performance.
“It was one of the triumphs of the Royal Lyceum’s 50th-anniversary season and of the whole Scottish theatre calendar.”
Ms McMillan added: “The success of Beckett’s perfectly poised drama depends on every element of the production working in harmony, and each of the characters – Vladimir, Estragon, their visitors Pozzo and Lucky, and even the little boy who appears to tell them that Mr Godot will not come today – supporting all the others. The cast in Mark Thomson’s production achieved this balance perfectly, and offered a masterclass in magnificent acting.”
The Best Production for Children and Young People award, sponsored by Young Scot, was won by Uncanny Valley, a Borderline Theatre co-production with the Gaiety Theatre, commissioned by Edinburgh International Science Festival working in partnership with Imaginate.
The 2016 awards were presented by acclaimed Scots actor Daniela Nardini, who will make a return to the stage in Jumpy at the Lyceum later this year, and comedian, writer and actor Sanjeev Kohli, who performed in Still Game Live last year. 2016 WINNERS
CATS Whiskers (For outstanding achievement in supporting and strengthening women’s role in Scottish theatre): Muriel Romanes, artistic director of Stellar Quines Theatre Company
Best Male Performance: Sandy Grierson (Lanark/Duncan Thaw), Lanark: A Life in Three Acts
Best Female Performance: Pauline Knowles (Clytemnestra), This Restless House
Best Ensemble: Waiting for Godot
Best Director: Dominic Hill, This Restless House
Best Design: Laura Hopkins (designer), Nigel Edwards (lighting designer) and Simon Wainwright (video artist), Lanark: A Life in Three Acts
Best Music and Sound: Martin Lowe (music arranger and supervisor), Mike Walker (sound Designer), the band and cast, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour
Best Technical Presentation: Lanark: A Life in Three Acts
Best Production for Children and Young People: Uncanny Valley,
Best New Play: Zinnie Harris, This Restless House, Citizens Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland
Best Production: Waiting for Godot