A Game of Death and Chance

Gladstone’s Land, The Lawnmarket, Edinburgh

July-September 2019

A second commission from the National Trust for Scotland, A Game of Death and Chance occupied three floors of the 500-year old Gladstone’s Land tenement on the Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile.

Reflecting on the terrible experience of living in 17th century Scotland, a time visited by war, plague and the frenzied grip of a Convenanting Kirk, the piece begins with a welcome by Lucky Lucy, a female publican, and moves to an encounter with a speculator in the doomed Darien enterprise of the end of the century. In the bedroom we meet the blasted, bitter and furious embodiment of Caledonia herself, cursing the betrayal of many of her sons from James VI onwards.

Finally, in the parlour we meet Daniel Defoe, a spy for the English government during the critical days of the Act of Union, finally signed in 1707. As he draws a veil over the terrible 17th century, an ‘age of foolishness’, we are confronted with where Scotland exists now within the UK and European project.

A Game of Death and Chance gave audiences the power to choose from three possible narratives in each room, by the choice of a tankard, the pick of a card, the roll of a dice, or the selection of a particular tea. Due to the element of chance, there were 81 possible variations of the show.