DUNSINANE: David Greig
National Theatre of Scotland, on tour
Touring to 12.10.13
Runs: 2h 40m, one interval
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Birmingham Rep, 25 09 13
Historical make-believe and contemporary reality perfectly fused
David Greig’s play is a fascinating one – engaging and endlessly thought-provoking. It’s action takes over from the end of MACBETH – Malcolm is enthroned as King of Scotland and Siward commands an English army, garrisoned in Scotland, in the interest’s of England. But Macbeth’s wife, contrary to popular belief, is alive; the Scottish clans constantly war with each other and many side with the Queen against Malcolm and the English.
But Greig’s is no simple historical make-believe. This play is a masterful exploration of the difficulties of invasion and settlement, even when it’s done with the best of intentions. The play is powerfully and painfully relevant. Roxana Silbert, who directs, keeps the play free from fuss; the production is direct and the play speaks. Robert Innes Hopkins’ set, a flight of steps, couldn’t be simpler either – and it’s endlessly flexible.
This is a strong company and they create a fine ensemble. Siobhan Redmond is an excellent Queen – Gruach; she combines elegance and authority with a toughness that reeks of life in the Highlands. Jonny Phillips is a tough, no-nonsense, Siward, a character troubled by trying to do the right thing, a man trapped by events. Tom Gill draws us into the world of the play with is simple honesty and lack of guile, while Sandy Grierson, as Malcolm, amuses us and horrifies us, with his abundance of guile.
The final scene, which takes place in the open as snow falls, and in which the acting space is totally transformed with laying snow, is an image that lasts, and lasts, and lasts.
George Brockbanks: Sergeant / Scottish Lord
Helen Darbyshire: Gruach’s Attendant / Hen Girl
Tom Gill: The Boy Solder
Sandy Grierson: Malcolm
Lewis Howden: Macduff
Joshua Jenkins: Eric the Archer
Tony McGeever: Scottish Soldier / Scottish Lord / English Solder
Alex Mann: Egham
Mairi Morrison: Gruach’s Attendant / Gaelic Singer
Adam Newington: English Soldier
Jonny Phillips: Siward
Siobhan Redmond: Gruach
Chorus: Greg Champkin, Mikhael Deville, Josh Harper, Tom Hendryk
Director: Roxanna Silbert
Designer: Robert Innes Hopkins
Composer and Sound Designer: Nick Powell
Lighting Designer: Chahine Yavroyan
Movement Director: Anna Morrissey
Associate Director: Luke Kernaghan
Associate Movement Director: Polly Bennett
Fight Director: Terry King
Voice Coach: Stephen Kemble