A show about prostitution and human trafficking which rocked last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been judged the best overall theatre production in Scotland over the last 12 months at the 9th Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
Roadkill, which has already won several awards, also won in the best actress category, sponsored by STV, at a lively ceremony at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre yesterday, at which former Gregory's Girl star Clare Grogan gave away the prizes. Cora Bissett, who created the show in the light of her own experience in giving shelter to a trafficked Nigerian girl, and Mercy Ojelade, who played the trafficked girl Mary in the play, were both on hand to collect their awards.
A clearly delighted Bissett said: "This show has been a baby in my head for five years. when I first met the real person that Mercy brought to life. I wanted to create a show that had the impact that hearing her story had on me. It's nice to have this recognition that if you really believe a story is worth telling it is worth staying with it to the bitter end."
However, the most successful show of the year, winning three of the ten awards, was designed for very young children under 4 years old. White, devised by Andy Manley and produced by the award-winning children’s company Catherine Wheels won not only the Best Show for Children category but also in the Technical Excellence category, sponsored by Northern Light, and the Design category.
Manley, who has a wide range of experience producing work for very young children, seemed stunned by the scale of the show's success. "We're absolutely thrilled" he said, "to have a show for 2-4 year olds recognised alongside mainstream shows."
He revealed that the show began life when he saw a picture of a whtie muslin draped room in a design managzine. "I just began to wonder what would be the implications of introducing colour into that."
The other big winner was Chris Hannan’s entertaining alternative Christmas show at the Traverse in Edinburgh, The Three Musketeers and the Princes of Spain. This marked a return to form for Hannan himself, winning the W&P Longreach sponsored Best New Play category, but also picked up the Best Ensemble performance category, newly sponsored by the acting union Equity.
Other winners were Muriel Romanes for best director for her brilliant revival of the Canadian play Age of Arousal, co-produced by her own Stellar Quines company and the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, and David Birrell who won best male performance for his portrayal of Sweeney Todd in the Stephen Sondheim musical at Dundee Rep.
Sweeney Todd also featured in the Best Music category, although unusually the critics split the award between Sweeney Todd and the National Theatre of Scotland’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart on the grounds they were both brilliant but so different that they could not be ranked against one another.
Joyce McMiIllan, the co-convenor of the awards, said that, once again, it had been a privilege to look back over twelve months of magnificent achievement in Scotland, from great to small, from the darkest drama to the brightest white. She went on to thank the theatre artists "on stage every night, who give their all, to tell it like it is, to show us Scotland as it is or as it could be, to reflect the wider world and to do it all with beauty and joy."