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Dunsinane review at Royal Lyceum Edinburgh

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Fortuitous timing for the National Theatre of Scotland, ensures that the RSC production of David Greig’s powerful Dunsinane marches into Scotland just after Alex Salmond marched his SNP troops to an outright majority at Holyrood.

It’s relevant because, while Greig wrote his continuation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth against the backdrop of the Afghan conflict, its real message is a universal one about the danger of simplifying politics down to two, opposing sides. Here, Siobhan Redmond’s strong, sensual Gruach – Lady Macbeth – against Brian Ferguson’s effete Malcolm

Roxana Silbert’s astutely paced direction ensures that Greig’s dialogue gets all the space it needs, even if she over-pitches the comedy for a Scottish audience. At its heart there is stillness from which a collection of strong performances can grow, underpinned by Nick Powell’s pulsing, modernistic live music.

Tom Gill holds it together as the Boy Soldier, one of Siward’s troops sent to Scotland to kill the tyrant Macbeth. His letters home frame the conflict as the opening strategic masterstroke from Jonny Phillips’ gung-ho Siward is undone by his application of a military commander’s solutions to matters that demand political strategy.

Alex Mann’s English lieutenant, Egham, suffers from the overplaying of the comedy, initially a derisory character he doesn’t quite gain the power of the military fixer he might. By contrast Ferguson’s Malcolm – installed king by the English – is brilliantly pitched, showing with quiet understanding the subtleties of political power.

Over all looms Redmond’s Gruach – acclaimed by half of Scotland as their queen. It is through her performance that the Siward’s failures are laid bare. A powerful, relevant and fascinating production.

Production Information

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, May 17-June 4, then touring until July 2

Author
David Greig
Director
Roxana Silbert
Producer
National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
Cast Includes
Brian Ferguson, Lisa Hogg, Tom Gill, Alex Mann, Phil McKee, Jonny Phillips, Siobhan Redmond
Running Time
2hrs 30mins

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