Sunset Song Tues 7th-Saturday 11th October Kings Theatre, Edinburgh 7pm. £14 – £27.50
Most of us are familiar with Sunset Song, compulsory reading material for a lot of us in school, and yet undoubtedly one of the all time Scottish classics. As I took my seat among a gaggle of teenagers on a school trip it reminded me of my first encounter with this book. It is the story of a farming community in the North East of Scotland at the turn of the century, and in particular the life of one woman, Chris Guthrie. Unlike most of those around her, she escapes into books, and dares to dream of a life outside of the one she was born into. The story deals with the bleak life and hard toil of the farming folks during this time, and reveals the choices, or lack of them, for woman living in this dreich, relentless landscape. And yet intertwined in the lives of these ordinary people are tales of love and duty, heroics and cruelty, and all the while the enduring nature of the land. We witness in one lifetime the changing faces of a family, a community, and ultimately a culture, as the Great War arrives and in it’s wake rips apart this simple way of life forever.
This adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel takes on a raw challenge and delivers it with a subtle honesty, faithful to the story and the lyrical doric language that portrays this unique place in time. The performance of Rebecca Elise as Chris is captivating, as indeed are the performances of all of the cast. Together they seamlessly weave scenes and years into an epic performance, punctuated by traditional song and curlew call, that carry this story through the years. This is a powerful and well delivered depiction of an individual and of a community living through a turbulent and transformative period in Scotland’s history. Enduring hope and a realisation of the inevitability of change are the recurrent themes, and is repeated throughout, ‘Nothing endures but the land’. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Glenda Rome