Lay on, Macduff, And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!

Everyone knows what happens immediately after Macbeth’s challenge in the penultimate scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth–Macduff slays Macbeth, making Malcolm King of Scotland. But what happens after that?

Malcolm crowned near the beginning of DUNSINANE. The National Theatre of Scotland/Royal Shakespeare Company production is at Carolina Performing Art. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Malcolm crowned near the beginning of DUNSINANE. The National Theatre of Scotland/Royal Shakespeare Company production is at Carolina Performing Art. Photo courtesy of the artists.

 

Playwright David Grieg has imagined a scenario in his splendidly written play Dunsinane, which is being toured by the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has been brought to Chapel Hill by Carolina Performing Arts. It will repeat Friday, January 30 in Memorial Hall. Hie ye thither for an intoxicating, 160-minute compound of  brilliant thinking, poetic speaking, powerful play-making and superb acting, accompanied by bold music on stage.

Although Dunsinane is a “sequel” to Macbeth, it is so much more. For starters, it inverts the point of view. Macbeth, the play postulates, was not (just) a murderous tyrant, but a successful and stabilizing king for 15 years, during a time when Scottish kings generally fell after a year or two. Siward’s army, far from being a liberating force bringing peace, appears as an occupying force, bringing battle and destruction during a contest of wills over national identities and self-determination. And suddenly, although the scene and characters remain, we are no longer in 11th century Scotland, but in Afghanistan, Iraq and every other place where one country has forced “regime change” on another. It’s brilliant. Grieg and director Roxana Silbert don’t force the parallel, but there are Middle Eastern rhythms in the otherwise Celtic music, the women’s head coverings look very much like hijabs.

And–Lady Macbeth is not dead. Gruach lives, as Queen in her own right, with a son (by her first husband) before her and the strength of her clans behind her. Descended from the Scottish King Malcolm I, their claims to the throne appear more valid than those of the English puppet Malcolm (who turns out less biddable than his English masters expected).  Gruach is marvelously portrayed by Siobhan Redmond, and her performance alone is worth the ticket price. Redmond’s presence electrifies the stage and all around her, and her diction and projection are such that she overcame entirely the acoustic deficiencies for theatre of the Memorial Hall stage in the January 29th performance.

As Siward, Darrell D’Silva gives a deeply moving performance as the commander whose good intentions mire him in confusion and tragedy. His final scene with the Queen when he has traced her through the snow to her hiding place, his pleas breaking against her implacable will, his will crumbling before her certainty–it’s devastatingly beautiful, 20 minutes of theater that will remain etched in memory. It is Siward who’ll be damned and cry “hold, enough!”: he’d killed the Queen’s son Lulach, but not the woman bearing Lulach’s child. The struggle is not over; it will never be over. There will always be someone else. Gruach’s position holds; Siward plods out into the dark, away. “We walk,” he says. “we walk.”

Keith Fleming makes a fine warrior and canny diplomat as Macduff, but Ewan Donald as the slippery Malcolm has the key speech:

“You seem to think peace is a natural state, Siward, and conflict its interruption, but the truth is the exact opposite.”

Would we have fewer wars if we admitted that to ourselves?

 

Whether you can see this play or not, you may want to read it (Faber and Faber, 2010). Grieg’s writing is very musical and imaginative, as well as trenchant (he also wrote The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, which CPA and the National Theatre of Scotland presented in Chapel Hill in 2012). The story of Dunsinane divides into acts by season, each introduced by a soldier-narrator. For all its serious meditations on war and peace, politics and power, and the lusts that drive them, the play is also full of laughs, and astonishing descriptions. There are also some first-class program notes available here.

 

2 Recent Reviews

Links to two recent reviews published on CVNC.org. Click through to read.

The splendor of Nrityagram was a bit dim on Jan. 22 at Duke Performances.

The splendor of Nrityagram was a bit dim on Jan. 22 at Duke Performances.

Lots to Long for in Nrityagram’s “Songs of Love and Longing,” at Duke Performances

 

KATHRYN HUNTER-WILLIAMS as Wiletta Mayer in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of “Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress. January 21 – February 8, 2015. Directed by Jade King Carroll. Photo by Jon Gardiner.

KATHRYN HUNTER-WILLIAMS as Wiletta Mayer in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of “Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress. January 21 – February 8, 2015. Directed by Jade King Carroll. Photo by Jon Gardiner.

When Our Ethics Battle Our Dreams: Trouble in Mind at PlayMakers

L to R: KATHRYN HUNTER-WILLIAMS as Wiletta Mayer, ROGER ROBINSON as Sheldon Forrester, MYLES BULLOCK as John Nevins, CAREY COX as Judy Sears and SUZETTE AZARIAH GUNN as Millie Davis in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of “Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress. January 21 – February 8, 2015. Directed by Jade King Carroll. Photo by Jon Gardiner.

L to R: KATHRYN HUNTER-WILLIAMS as Wiletta Mayer, ROGER ROBINSON as Sheldon Forrester, MYLES BULLOCK as John Nevins, CAREY COX as Judy Sears and SUZETTE AZARIAH GUNN as Millie Davis in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of “Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress. Photo by Jon Gardiner.

Prepare your best adjectives! Ticket give-away for Miro show at the Nasher

The nice folks at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University are offering 2 tickets (regular adult admission is $16) to see the Joan Miró exhibition there to lucky readers of The Five Points Star. Here’s the contest: The Star loves description. Many editors have tried to tame her adjective-knobbed sentences to no avail. The greatest among them was forced to retreat from the rule of one adjective only and NO adverbs…almost whimpering, he said, OK, pick three out of the five. All right! With three adjectives you can build a dimensional view.

SO, use the comment function to send me your best descriptors of Miro’s work. You may write a complete sentence, or not, but you must poetically place three descriptors together. Anyone who can successfully get five into the line-up goes to the top of the pile. The Star will choose the two most vivid entries. Winners will pick up their tickets at the museum desk. You must include your name and your email address along with your entry. (I will not publish your email address.) Have fun! Contest ends at noon, Monday, January 19, 2015. The two winners will be notified that night.

In case you’ve been hibernating, here’s the basic info:

“Miró: The Experience of Seeing” at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University—now in the final weeks.
The Nasher Museum is the only East Coast venue for this presentation of the final 20 years of Spanish-born artist Joan Miró’s career. The exhibition features more than 50 masterpieces, some of them more than 6 feet tall. All of the art is on loan from the Reina Sofia Museum in Spain. The exhibition is on view through Feb. 22, 2015.
Plan your visit around Spanish wine tastings and other special Miró-related activities:http://nasher.duke.edu/calendar/?type=miro

Before you go: Watch the 30-minute public television documentary about the Miró exhibition on UNC-TV:  http://www.unctv.org/content/miro

 More information: nasher.duke.edu/miro.

A tour of the Miro exhibition in the Nasher galleries. Photo: J. Caldwell.

A tour of the Miro exhibition in the Nasher galleries. Photo: J. Caldwell.

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