A Game of Death and Chance
- Liam Rees
- 26 July 2019
Tales of burning witches, riots, executions and more
Gladstone's Land is one of Edinburgh's oldest buildings, and proves an excellent source of inspiration for director Ben Harrison, who has constructed a series of vignettes depicting Scottish history from the bubonic plague of 1645 through to the Act of Union.
The cast work up an excellent rapport with the audience, giving a face to historical events and avoiding a generic run through Scottish historical highlights. Unfortunately, as the actors hit their stride, the audience is directed to another room and another era. Nevertheless, the atmospheric setting complements the various tales of disaster and dashed hopes of becoming an economic (read: colonial) superpower before begrudgingly entering into a union with England. It's certainly refreshing to see more Scottish theatre engage with the nation's problematic past.
A Game of Death and Chance reveals that nothing lasts forever and that hope follows catastrophe, so perhaps we have something to look forward to in spite of the current cultural and political mayhem. Yet the final caricature of Caledonia as a self-pitying old woman, whining about her lost glory suggests a backwards glance at a historical stereotype.
Gladstone's Land, until Sun 8 Sep.