Duns Volunteer Hall played host to a ‘bloody, bold and resolute’ Macbeth

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The Duns Players performance of Macbeth, over four nights at the Volunteer Hall Duns, was a sell-out success.

On some nights the size of the audience so exceeded expectation that the increased seating space, surrounding the floor-level stage and acting space, needed fine tuning of some scenes, particularly the specially choreographed fight scenes.

The Duns Players would like to thank the people and businesses of Duns and District for their support in presenting this marvellous play.

I first fell for Macbeth in 1964, and in the past 55 years I have both loved and endured many a performance of The Scottish Play, indeed I have forced partners, friends, husbands, children to come share the magic I have always felt for this play, tragically without much success.

Until, that is, Friday, November 1 which has entered my pantheon of my greatest experiences!

We bowled up, my granddaughter and I, to the Volunteer Hall in Duns for what I expected to be another hand-knitted am-dram excursion into Shakespearean drama. How wrong I was!

Peter Lerpiniere’s Macbeth was bloody, bold and resolute. This director gave us passion, excess, guilt, madness, grief and fiendish murder all wrapped up in stunning performances from the cast.

I am used to seeing Duncan being portrayed as a grey and aged King, kindly but ineffectual.

This Duncan strode the stage as a King in full splendour of his regal status, his manly vigour and his inherent kindness.

So, when he is murdered, instead of thinking, oh well glad he’s out of the way and now we can get on with the rest of the story, we feel true sadness for the heinous end which has befallen him. And this is just the beginning!

Banquo came across as a loyal, steadfast and gentle Thane, whose subsequent murder appals us, and whose appearance at the banqueting table is a stroke of ingenious stage management , and we love that his appearance makes Macbeth become even more unhinged.

Macbeth is a colossus.

He is powerful and strong; we truly believe his prowess in battle, cleaving a man from the nave to the chops with his broadsword.

However, he is portrayed as a man with faults, simple desires, and visions based on his experiences in war.

Lady Macbeth is her usual scheming self, winding Macbeth up to do her dirty work, but he is no innocent as he colludes with her in the murder of King Duncan to serve their own separate ambitions

The cast are superb , from Macduff’s son and wife, through the witches and Hecate to the sons of Duncan. Everyone can be singled out for praise, but for me there is one which I did not expect and it came like a firebrand.

When I heard that a woman would be playing Macduff, I have to admit my first thought was, oh Jings here we go again, let’s make Shakespeare more modern and accessible. So wrong! So utterly wrong!

This Macduff was the Macduff I have searched for for over 50 years.

Not the simple hero who kills the tyrant Macbeth, nor the poor Thane who is branded a traitor and his wife and children murdered.

This Macduff is not a victim of the play but is instead the proper hero of the piece.

Passionate, articulate and powerful, there was nothing not to love!

Each character was portrayed individually and not as a set piece. It was an absolute joy to watch!

The theatre was set in the round and the actors used it beautifully.

The fight scenes were fabulous with lots of blood and gore, the murders of Banquo, Macduff’s wife and child were chilling , the entire play held our attention captive throughout.

I can honestly say that this was the finest production of Macbeth I have ever seen.

On a final note I wish to thank Eric Branse-Instone who had come a cropper some days previously when a hill attacked him, not Dunsinane, but still.

So, Eric was the recipient of the bad luck which surrounds the Scottish Play, but bravely he continued, with broken arms and gashes to play his roles. Maybe he didn’t need the fake blood?

Wonderful, superb, so good I wanted to cry with the joy of my favourite play being so well played.