DUNSINANE: David Greig
RSC, The Swan, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 2h 35m, one interval, till 2nd July
Review: Rod Dungate 18 June 2011
It doesn’t get much better than this; compelling drama.I think perhaps there’s nowhere better to be than watching the RSC when they get it right. And my goodness don’t they get it right in this production; DUNSINANE is a 150 per cent resounding success. On every level.
Starting just before the end of MACBETH, we are with English soldiers as they storm ‘the tyrant’s’ castle. From then on, Siward, with his English troops attempts to place Malcolm on the throne and bring peace to a warring Scotland. However, Malcolm is less kingly than you might think, and Siward hadn’t reckoned on meeting up with Lady Macbeth – in reality Gruach, Queen of Scotland.
Such inspired conceits abound in David Greig’s highly accomplished script; he is totally in command of his medium. Greig succeeds in writing something truly absorbing and many layered. His script is at one moment a story peopled with richly flesh and blood characters, at another an uncomfortable reflection of our present-day warring excursions in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan – ‘We are not here to conquer – this is a different kind of war.’ Yet again, easefully there appear before us echoes of the Serbian conflict, even of Scotland’s current desires to define itself as a nation in the 21st Century.
This is not a showy production; it’s all ‘play’ – discursive, serious, intriguing, memorable.
Siobhan Redmond is beautiful as Gruach – distanced but never cold, regal but never lacking humanity (albeit never comfortably at rest with herself). And who is Gruach? – Queen? Woman? Witch? Seductress? Spirit of a Nation? – All of these . . . Jonny Phillips creates an absorbing portrait of Siward; he’s a character who sets out to create peace, but finds himself committing horrible murders to bring it about, a truly good man who, unwillingly, brings pain and suffering, and doomed to fail. These two are joined by Brian Ferguson and Tom Gill who, respectively, give unerring performances as Malcolm and The Boy Soldier, at the head of a terrifically strong acting company.
Roxana Silbert directs with a sure hand and a delight in bringing us a detailed and thrilling discussion. Marvellous.
Soldier: George Brockbanks
Malcolm: Brian Ferguson
The Boy Soldier: Tom Gill
Scottish Soldier / Lord:: Kevin Guthrie
Soldier / Lord: Lewis Hart
Gruach’s Attendant/ Hen Girl: Lisa Hogg
Soldier: Joshua Jenkins
Egham: Alex Mann
MacDuff: Phil McKee
Gruach’s Arttendant: Mairi Morrison
Siward: Jonny Phillips
Gruach: Siobhan Redmond
Directed by: Roxana Silbert
Designed by: Robert Innes Hopkins
Composition and Sound Designed by: Mick Powell
Lighting Designed by: Chabine Yavroyan
Movement Director and Assistant Director of the Chorus: Anna Morrissey
Fights by: Terry King
Voice Coach:: Stephen Kemble
Dramaturg: Jeanie O’Hare