Dunsinane, Royal Lyceum, Review

Submitted by Alex Eades on Fri, 27 May '11 7.51am
Rating
5
Show details
Company
Royal Shakespeare Company
Production
David Greig (Writer), Roxana Silbert (Director), Robert Innes Hopkins (Designer), Nick Powell (Composer and Sound Designer), Chahine Yavroyan (Lighting Designer), Anna Morrissey (Movement Director), Terry King (Fight Director)
Performers
George Brockbanks (Soldier), Brian Ferguson (Malcolm), Tom Gill (Boy Soldier), Kevin Guthrie (Scottish Soldier/Lord), Lisa Hogg (Gruach's Attendant/Hen Girl), Joshua Jenkins (Soldier), Alex Mann (Egham), Phil Mckee (Macduff), Mairi Morrison (Gruach's Attendant), Jonny Phillips (Siward), Siobhan Redmond (Gruach "Lady Macbeth")
Running time
140mins

Macbeth:  I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,
And to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn'd be him that first cries, "Hold, enough!"

Macbeth:  Act 5, Scene 8

These are the final words of the old king, Macbeth. The weak and murderous tyrant who slaughtered his way to a crown that he struggled and ached to maintain....Or at least this is what Shakespeare will have you believe in “The Scottish Play” and what is his shortest tragedy.

It appears that Shakespeare, along with a handful of Scottish political mythmakers (spin artists), have rather demonised a king that was, in truth, a talented and much admired monarch.

And what of his queen, Lady Macbeth? A name frequently whispered when an evil act is committed by female hand. What of her truth? A manipulative fiend, rotten to the core?

David Creig’s Dunsinane, a “sequel” to Shakespeare’s masterwork, aims to unmask the woman we think we know and reveal the truth to yet another much misunderstood and misinterpreted character.

The play opens with the news of Macbeth’s death. The English have swept across the land and Malcom has taken the throne. But the country’s Queen is still very much alive. And she wants her country back.

The English commanding officer demands peace, but is soon confronted with the country’s harsh land and thorny political landscape. Unfortunately for him, Lady Macbeth is there to hold his hand. Soon all spins out of control and hell is unleashed.

This is quite possibly the finest production I have ever seen at the Lyceum.

Greig’s writing is beautifully poetic and wonderfully captures the balance between sharp humour and gritty drama.  If Shakespeare were to have written a ‘part two’, he would have struggled to have come up with something as quite as remarkable as this.

Lady Macbeth is no evil maniac here. If there is anyone who comes out of this play well, it is the Queen herself. Intelligent, seductive and fighting for her country and her people, this is a character to look up to rather than detest. Whilst all others seem to fall from grace and descend into confusion, she slowly rises up into a God-like figure akin to those of Celtic mythology.

Such a character requires an actress of unique intensity and Siobhan Redmond nails it. Her voice melts the ears and bewitches us as it does the poor commander, Siward. We are helpless to it and, before we know it, slaves to her.

To be fair, all of the performances are fantastic and worthy of a standing ovation, which they did justly receive. But the Queen is the true diamond in this band of gold.

Written as Saddam Hussein’s reign came to an end, the story of the aftermath of a tyrant's overthrow is evidently remarkably contemporary and has a lot to say about where we are today. With the regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan still stinking the air and revolutions sweeping across Northern Africa and the Middle East, Dunsinane ponders: What next? What now?

Run Ends 4th June, 7:45pm