Traverse Theatre laps up the Cats cream with 10 award nominations

THE Traverse Theatre led the field yesterday in nominations for the Cats Scottish theatre awards in a fresh boost for the Edinburgh venue and its artistic director, Dominic Hill.

• Dominic Hill, artistic director at the Traverse, featured in a number of the nominations

The Traverse won ten nominations across six out of ten categories for the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (Cats).

Mr Hill, who oversees the theatre's programme as well as directing individual plays, won two of the four nominations for best director.

"It does seem to be a very good year for the Traverse, and for Dominic Hill to be in competition with himself for best director. I don't know that's ever happened in our awards," said Mark Fisher, the Cats chairman this year.

Two productions did particularly well for the Traverse. The Dark Things, which opened last October, saw Brian Ferguson earn a best actor nomination for his role as Daniel, a gifted young artist who is the only survivor of a horrific bus crash.

It earned a best new play nomination for writer Ursula Rani Sarna, best director for Mr Hill, best production, and best design for Neil Warmington and Lizzie Powell.

This spring's show The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, a bitingly dark play skewering family values, by Edward Albee, also saw Mr Hill named for best director, with Sian Thomas for best female actor and another nomination for best production.

• Nominations for Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland

Mr Hill will compete in the best director category against Ken Alexander, for the musical Whisky Galore at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, and Jemima Levick, for The Elephant Man at Dundee Rep.

The theatre has also won a string of awards for productions in recent Edinburgh Festival Fringe line-ups.

Mr Hill said: "We're over the moon to be nominated for ten Cats this year. It's an honour to have our work recognised by Scotland's critics, and testament to the first-rate work of the fantastic writers, actors and theatre artists we've worked with over the past 12 months. I am delighted to have been nominated for two awards as director."

Dundee Repertory Theatre also fared well, with A Christmas Carol and The Elephant Man each receiving three nominations, while Glasgow's Tron appeared in four categories for The Government Inspector, a co- production with Communicado Theatre Company.

There were thin pickings yesterday, it appeared, for the National Theatre of Scotland. Only one show, Mr Write, was named for two awards, for best technical presentation and best production for children and young people.

Major National Theatre productions, such as Peter Pan or The House of Bernarda Alba, did not appear – though controversial shows like the Wall of Death might have struggled to match conventional categories, insiders said.

The Cats, now in their eighth year, are Scotland's leading theatre awards. This year's presentation is at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre on 13 June.

The Scotsman's theatre critic Joyce McMillan said: "Everybody in the critics group was really, really pleased at the widespread nature of this year's nominations, and by the fact that so many companies were represented that haven't been before."

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