‘Heartbreaking’ Death of a Salesman leads theatre ‘Oscars’

Billy Mack as Willy Loman in Dundee Rep's production of Death of a Salesman. Picture: Jane Hobson
Billy Mack as Willy Loman in Dundee Rep's production of Death of a Salesman. Picture: Jane Hobson
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Dundee Rep’s version of the Arthur Miller classic Death of a Salesman triumphed at the Scottish theatre “Oscars” today.

The show won three honours in the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (Cats), including best production.

It also took the best ensemble category and best male performance, for Billy Mack.

Cats co-convener and Scotsman theatre critic Joyce McMillan said: “Dundee Rep used all the resources of its fine ensemble company to produce a beautiful, memorable and heart-breaking production.

“The Rep used superb design and sound to set one of the 20th century’s greatest plays in its full historical context, while always remaining fully focused on the profound and enduring human tragedy at the heart of the story.

Joy Watters, of Across the Arts, said: “Billy Mack’s performance as Willy Loman was unforgettable. He movingly ran the gamut of Willy’s emotions, raging against what life has done to him, bursting into unfounded optimism and finally, heartbreakingly, the realisation that it has all been for nothing.”

Nicole Cooper won the best female performance award for her gender-bending lead role in Coriolanus, which was hailed as “barnstorming”.

Neil Cooper, theatre critic of The Herald, said: “As Coriolanus in Bard in the Botanics’ stripped-back production of Shakespeare’s war-time classic, Nicole Cooper took on a role usually associated with unhinged machismo, and stomped her way through the Kibble Palace with a whirlwind-like ferocity.

“This not only gave the play a fresh edge of femininity in a still contemporary work, but pointed to a major actor who can tackle big roles with a mix of fearlessness and sensitivity.”

Zinne Harris won the award for best director for A Number at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

Mark Brown, of the Sunday Herald and Telegraph, said the production of Caryl Churchill’s futuristic drama about cloning “reflected brilliantly the careful, sharp-yet-nuanced structure of the play.

“Like a great, modernist concerto, her direction combined enthralling dissonance with a deep emotional and psychological connection.”

The Lyceum also won best music and sound for Wind Resistance, and best technical presentation for Alice in Wonderland.

The Red Bridge and Traverse Theatre Company production of Black Beauty won both best production for children and young people, and best design.

Kieran Hurley’s Heads Up was named best new play.

WINNERS

Best Female Performance: Nicole Cooper (Coriolanus), Coriolanus, Bard in the Botanics

Best Male Performance: Billy Mack (Willy Loman), Death of a Salesman, Dundee Rep Ensemble

Best Ensemble: Death of a Salesman, Dundee Rep Ensemble

Best Director: Zinnie Harris, A Number, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in partnership with Edinburgh International Science Festival

Best Design: Shona Reppe (designer) and Simon Wilkinson (lighting designer), Black Beauty, Red Bridge and Traverse Theatre Company

Best Music and Sound: Pippa Murphy (sound designer), Karine Polwart (composer and musical director), Ben Seal (live sound) and Mark Whyles (live sound), Wind Resistance, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with Edinburgh International Festival

Best Technical Presentation: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh

Best Production for Children and Young People: Black Beauty, Red Bridge and Traverse Theatre Company 

Best New Play: Kieran Hurley, Heads Up, Show and Tell and Kieran Hurley

Best Production: Death of a Salesman, Dundee Rep Ensemble