A SATIRICAL musical by Scotland’s leading disability-led theatre company tops the nominations in this year’s Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS).

My Left/Right Foot – The Musical, which is co-produced by Birds of Paradise (BoP) and the National Theatre of Scotland, has received no fewer than six nominations for the 2019 edition of the prestigious, annual awards.

The musical is a boldly comic, raucously politically incorrect broadside against Jim Sheridan’s 1989 film My Left Foot.

Set in the rehearsal room of a Scottish amateur dramatic group, it sends up the film which, controversially, starred non-disabled actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown, the famous Irish writer and painter who had cerebral palsy.

The production’s six nominations include Best Music and Sound, Best Director (for Birds of Paradise’s artistic director Robert Softley Gale, who has cerebral palsy himself) and Best Production of the theatre year 2018-19.

BoP’s success comes a little over a year after arts funding quango Creative Scotland (CS) caused a storm of fury by announcing an end to stable funding for the company (a decision which it was forced to reverse in the face of public outrage).

Joyce McMillan, co-convenor of the CATS Awards spoke for all of us on the 13-strong judging panel when she said: “The initial decision to cut regular funding for Birds of Paradise seemed out of tune with Creative Scotland’s commitment to supporting arts that are by and for everyone.”

Director and co-creator of the show Robert Softley Gale added: “We are so incredibly thrilled to receive these six CATS nominations ...

“It wasn’t so long ago that work by disabled artists was seen as being on the fringes, but now – in 2019 – we can finally have the confidence to say we’re a core part of the arts in Scotland.”

The fact that BoP should stage its greatest critical success, in collaboration with Scotland’s national drama company, in the direct aftermath of Creative Scotland’s threat to rob it of its funding really is extraordinary.

As the show (which has just completed a run at the Shizuoka Arts Theatre in Japan) tours to Brighton and Dundee in the coming weeks, one can only hope that drama bosses at CS finally rethink a policy of opaque “strategic priorities” and high-handed funding announcements.

Other stand-outs in the CATS nominations include Andy Arnold’s production for Glasgow’s Tron Theatre of Irish dramatist Enda Walsh’s extraordinary, dark comedy Ballyturk (which has five nominations).

Perth Theatre’s acclaimed production of Morna Young’s heart-wrenching fishing drama Lost At Sea picks up four nominations, as do fabulous children’s show Baba Yaga (by Christine Johnston, Rosemary Myers and Shona Reppe) and razor sharp comedy Ulster American (by David Ireland). The strong shortlists in the female and male acting categories are testament to the immense talent that treads the Scottish boards. Much is made of the fine Scottish actors who have left their country to pursue lucrative screen and stage careers in London or the United States.

However, one look at this year’s CATS nominations should be enough to calm the nerves of those who worry about a talent drain. Outstanding young actor Jessica Hardwick (who received last year’s CATS gong for Best Female Performance for her lead role in David Harrower’s Knives in Hens) is nominated again, this time for her playing of a Scots-speaking Roxane in the late Edwin Morgan’s adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s French classic Cyrano de Bergerac. She is joined on the shortlist by three brilliant actors: namely, Cora Bissett (What Girls Are Made Of), Irene Macdougall (All My Sons) and Lucianne McEvoy (Ulster American).

The Best Male Performance nominations are also comprised of four exceptional actors: Darrell D’Silva (Ulster American), Lorn Macdonald (Mouthpiece), John Michie (The Mack) and Grant O’Rourke (Ballyturk).

The winners of the 2019 CATS Awards will be announced at a ceremony at Glasgow’s Tramway venue on June 9.

The event, which is open to the public, will have as its guest host the revered theatre director Giles Havergal, whose 34-year directorship of Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre transformed the Scottish theatre landscape.

Mark Brown is theatre critic of the Sunday National and The Herald on Sunday.

For details of this year’s CATS Awards nominations and the awards ceremony, visit: criticsawards.theatrescotland.com