Roxana Silbert's production of David Greig's play stars Jonny Phillips, Siobhan Redmond and Brian Ferguson
Much has been made of the parallels between David Greig’s depiction of 11th century Scotland and modern day Afghanistan in his audacious sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The tortuous relationship between conqueror and vanquished is certainly intelligently probed in the story of English general, Siward (Jonny Phillips), whose attempts to impose a ruler on Scotland are repeatedly thwarted by his side’s lack of understanding of its opponents, most prominently the tyrant Macbeth’s wily widow Gruach (Siobhan Redmond).
In tone, the play successfully manages its balance of seriousness and bawdy humour as spring turns to winter and the English campaign falters. The most resonant line comes in the final confrontation between Gruach and Siward when the Queen tells the enfeebled officer, ‘Oh, how in love you are with your good intentions.’ While the Afghanistan comparison at times seems laboured Roxana Silbert’s production provides a lively illustration of the notion that our best intentions for others can often lead to the worst outcomes. Redmond’s rehabilitation of perhaps the most famous stage heroine is commanding, but she’s well supported by the supporting cast, notably Brian Ferguson as sleek wannabe king Malcolm.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 4 Jun.