A new production of Eugène Ionesco's classic play Rhinoceros, originally written as a response to the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, has topped the 2018 Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS).
Theatre is all about opening new perspectives on the world we live in, in ways that can be playful, tragic or just plain thrilling
The co-production (between the Edinburgh International Festival, the Scottish capital's Royal Lyceum Theatre and DOT Theatre, Istanbul) won four CATS including the accolade of Best Production.
Turkish director Murat Daltaban, who recently announced that he and his family were relocating from Istanbul to Edinburgh, received the award for Best Director. The production also received the awards for Best Male Performance (Robert Jack) and Best Music & Sound (Oğuz Kaplangi).
Announcing the Best Director Award, at the annual ceremony held this year in Perth Theatre, Mark Brown of the Sunday Herald and The Daily Telegraph said: "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," he added. "That is particularly true of Murat’s homeland Turkey, where freedom of thought and expression, not least the freedoms of theatremakers, are currently under serious threat."
The Edinburgh International Festival was also recognized in two further award categories (Best Design and Best Technical Presentation) for Flight, its commission from Vox Motus and Beacon Arts Centre. The Royal Lyceum, meanwhile, also triumphed in the CATS Best Ensemble category for its production of The Belle's Stratagem.
“Fear, isolationism and irrational kinds of 'group-think' are increasing forces in our world, and we're delighted that Scottish theatre, and many of our winning shows, continue to tackle these issues with such a thrilling mixture of wit, seriousness, and theatrical flair," added Joyce McMillan, CATS co-convenor and writer for The Scotsman.
"Theatre is all about opening new perspectives on the world we live in, in ways that can be playful, tragic or just plain thrilling; and this year, Scottish theatre carried out that job brilliantly, in what have not always been easy times, for many of Scotland’s theatre companies."