Dunsinane is David Greig’s take on the aftermath of Macbeth, and the LUTG’s (Lancaster University Theatre Group’s) performance is Gail Breslin’s take on Greig’s script.
Having killed Macbeth, Malcolm (William Evans) ascends the bloody steps to the throne only to discover that Lady Macbeth (Rose Briggs), called Gruach in this version, is still alive. Dunsinane centers around the discovery that Gruach has a fifteen year old son who is the rightful heir to the throne.
I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.
Gruach urges her son to flee to the safety of the woods as Siward (played by Josh Hawley) and his troops invade.
Instructed to secure Malcolm’s place on the throne, Siward mediates between the headstrong Gruach and the tyrannical Malcolm. Hawley plays the part of Siward with poise and control: he is a man focused on restoring peace, and this goal exudes out through words and his composure. The briefest flicker of an eyelid conveys Siward’s irritation, and these minute details are the first sign that there is an underlying anger to Siward, a brilliant foreshadowing on Hawley’s part.
Rose Brigg’s plays a convincing Gruach: her version of Lady Macbeth is headstrong and proud, and her anger is tangible in the moments where her son’s position as King is questioned:
The moon could rise at daytime and we could call it night.
The sun could rise at night time and we could call it day.
My son would still be king.
Tender moments abound.
Interspersed between acts of violence and scenes of bloodshed are pockets of realism in which soldiers one and two (Isaac Rolfe and Jordan Summerfield respectively) sit on a log in the forest and talk about nothing really, but this mindless chatter creates a sense of intimacy amidst the blood shed. Greig brings the audience swiftly back to the 11th century when, having arranged the bodies of his fallen comrades on the forest floor, Solder one frowns and says, ‘He looks pretty much the same as me.’
The Boy Soldier’s (Connor Gould’s) dramatic monologues are addressed to his mother, and are humorous while subtly hinting at the divide he experiences as an interloper in a strange land. At the beginning of the first scene the Boy Soldier exclaims, ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this but Scotland is cold!’ and swiftly moves on to say that in the villages around the castle there is only ‘cold air and the eyes of women.’
Gould conveys the soldier’s hope and melancholy through an assortment of emotions and a booming voice that show he is destined for the stage.
As the second act commences the audience is faced with an abruptly changed Siward: far from the peacemaker he had previously shown himself to be, the Earl of Northumberland turns murderous, enraged by Gruach’s devious nature. All pretense of creating unity is replaced by Siward’s attempt to eliminate the rightful heir to the throne: Gruach’s son.
The LUTG’s production of Dunsinane is a triumph of precise casting and adherence to Grieg’s vision. At just £9 per ticket, the production is a bargain for any seasoned theater-goer who appreciates a passion for performance.