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Sunset Song

Perth Concert Hall
Three stars
Like many women of her generation, there is something tragic about
Chris Guthrie, the heroine of Lewis Grassic Gibbons' A Scots Quair
trilogy of novels. Or at least that seems to be the case in this new
touring co-production between the enterprising Sell A Door Theatre
Company and Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, of Alastair Cording's
evergreen stage adaptation of the trilogy's first and best known part.

Here, book-loving free-spirit Chris, living off the land with her
bullying father John, ferociously played by Alan McHugh, and eternally
pregnant mother Jean, is forced to put aside her windswept ideals and
grow up too soon as she finds herself shunted by circumstance from one
patriarchy to another. Even the emancipation her inheritance provides
can't save her from the brutalising effects of little boys games,
although by the end, she finally seems to have found salvation of sorts.

The corrugated iron skyline of Jan Bee Brown's set lends an
over-ridingly grim air to Julie Ellen's production, which looks to
future conflicts as much as the one it occupies as a cast of nine adopt
an out-front approach resembling an exercise in communal story-telling.
As local stud Ewan Tavendale, Craig Anthony-Ralston demonstrates a
wounded machismo, and there is strong musical direction from Morna
Young, who plays a live folk-based score with other members of the
cast. It is Rebecca Elise's vibrant Chris that shines through the mire
here, however. Yet, even as she finds some kind of emancipation, one
longs for a sharper contrast between the bright-eyed idyll she yearns
for at the start of the play and what happens when reality bites beyond
it.

The Herald, September 12th 2014


ends



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