Anti-fascist play tops Scottish national theatre awards

Presenter actress Blythe Duff pictured with Best Production winners Oguz Kaplangi Rhinoceros music Composer and Rhinoceros Director Murat Daltaban. Picture: Graeme Hart
Presenter actress Blythe Duff pictured with Best Production winners Oguz Kaplangi Rhinoceros music Composer and Rhinoceros Director Murat Daltaban. Picture: Graeme Hart
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A reworking of a classic play which tackles the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe has come top in a national theatre awards ceremony.

Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, co-produced by the Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Lyceum Theatre, DOT Theatre and Istanbul international, won four of the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, including the foremost accolade, best production.

Jean, (Steven McNicoll, left) featured in Eugene Ionesco's classic 1959 play. Picture: TSPL

Jean, (Steven McNicoll, left) featured in Eugene Ionesco's classic 1959 play. Picture: TSPL

It also took best director (Murat Daltaban), best male performance (Robert Jack) and best music and sound (Oguz Kaplangi).

Announcing the best director award at a ceremony in Perth Theatre, arts critic Mark Brown 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.

“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.”

• READ MORE: Theatre review: Rhinoceros

Taggart star Blythe Duff presented the awards, which included two more for the Edinburgh International Festival - best design and best technical presentation for Flight.

The Royal Lyceum topped the best ensemble category for its production of The Belle’s Stratagem.

Jessica Hardwick took the best female performance award for her role in Perth Theatre’s production of David Harrower’s Scottish classic Knives In Hens.

Peter Arnott’s new version of Compton Mackenzie’s The Monarch Of The Glen for Pitlochry Festival Theatre won the best new play award.

The best new production for children and young people award went to Andy Cannon and Red Bridge Arts for Space Ape.

Awards co-convener Joyce McMillan said: “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.

“From our most awarded production Rhinoceros, through Perth Theatre’s brilliant version of Knives In Hens, to a new form of theatre designed to bring the world’s refugee crisis within touching distance in Vox Motus’s Flight, and Peter Arnott’s richly comic yet revealing 21st century take on all the issues of land, class and identity raised in Compton Mackenzie’s The Monarch Of The Glen, these plays speak to the world we live in with real urgency, but also a strong sense of passion, poetry and fun.”