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Teen Critics: Dunsinane

The Teen Critic Program at Shakespeare Theatre Company allows high school students interested in theatre, journalism and/or critical writing the opportunity to learn how to view productions with a critical eye and write a savvy, persuasive theatre review. The Teen Critics attend each production, receive a press packet, preferred press seating and have the opportunity to meet with professional theatre critics from local newspapers before writing their own reviews. 

Here are some excerpts from their reviews of Dunsinane.

Emma Paquette, 12th grade, McLean High School

What comes after the dictator is defeated? A crusading army lays waste to a foreign country in the name of freedom and stability. Yet, in a historically unstable country, can peace truly ever be achieved? Or does trying to enforce different, unfamiliar ideals merely end up causing more chaos in the end? David Greig’s Dunsinane, hosted by the Shakespeare Theatre Company at Sidney Harman Hall and performed by players of the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Shakespeare Company, explores these timely questions in the form of an unofficial sequel to one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays: Macbeth.

Greig’s script takes the ending of Macbeth and tweaks it only slightly, giving a what-if scenario where Lady Macbeth does not die and has a son by a previous marriage with a claim to the throne that Malcolm desires. The English invading army is led by General Siward, a man of high ideals who desired to bring peace to Scotland in toppling the dictator Macbeth. In clear parallels to the drawn-out conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he finds this more difficult than he had hoped.

Shea Christian, 10th grade, Sidwell Friends School

David Greig clearly did his research. The play constantly draws parallels to Macbeth, particularly with the story arc of Siward, who has a similar spiral from being a morally correImage-5 470x394ct person to a murderer, as Macbeth does in the original play. On the other hand, Greig incorporates different plotlines into the piece that are not present in Macbeth, like writing from the perspective of the English soldiers, and including Lady Macbeth, who is dead in the original play. This helps to make the play understandable and interesting enough to stand on its own without it being necessary for the audience to have read or seen its prequel. Grieg’s genius only extends with the much-needed comic relief from the dialogue between the soldiers, particularly from the unnamed young soldier, normalizing the electric tension that extends over the rest of the play.

Norah AlJunaidi, 12th grade, Severna Park High School

There were so many things I enjoyed about this production of Dunsinane, but by far my favorite was Siobhan Redmond, who played Gruach. Every time she walked onto the stage, Redmond owned it. She always had her head held high, and every word that came out of her mouth was loud and powerful.  I felt that Siobhan was Gruach, and she identified with all her conflicts, worries, fears and feelings. This character involves a lot of standing up for herself, because her kingdom has been taken over, she has lost her son, and her throne. She just wants to restore peace to her town, so she has to fight very hard to get what she wants, because she is a woman. Redmond portrayed the passion, care and feelings of Gruach very thoroughly and convincingly. I hung on to her every word.

Roxanne Fisher, 10th grade, homeschool

Another favorite of mine was Grauch’s arch nemesis, Malcolm (Ewan Donald). He wore a long cloak so that most of the time you couldn’t see his hands. He spoke with such seriousness that it took a moment to realize that everything he said was either very foolish or, alternatively, that he was pretending to be a fool.  The portrayal was intriguing. Overall, the company’s acting was honest and connected, and added powerfully to the darkness of the play.

Ben Beriss, 10th grade, Montgomery Blair High School

The play is staged on a simple set, but manages to set the mood through skillful use of props and skillful positioning of the actors. The mood is further heightened by the conflict between the modern instrumental music, provided by Rosalind Acton, Robert Owen, and Andy Taylor; and the traditional Gallic singing on stage.

Eli Kern, 10th grade, Robinson Secondary SchoolImage-12 470x394

The set of the production only works to emphasize the feeling of magic.  It also creates the feeling that there is just another mystery around the corner. The set is, for most of the play, is shrouded in a veil of smoke and is very simplistic so as to make scene changes and the passage of time seem entirely possible.

Grace Hodgman, 9th grade, Woodson High School

This play is thought provoking and left me ruminating for hours on concepts that were brought up. It provides different perspectives or a different lens to look through, and I feel it can be summed up in one line that is said by Gruach about how decisions and positions impact different conflicting parties. “There would be much less blood spilled if you were not a good man.”

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