The Scotsman 29 March 2024

In 2016, BBC Scotland conducted a poll to determine Scotland’s favourite novel. The winner beat some formidable competition, coming in ahead of The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, Lanark by Alasdair Gray and The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. It was Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, the beguiling story of Chris Guthrie, daughter of Kincardineshire farmers, coming of age in a rapidly changing nation around the years of the first world war.

When so many people love the 1932 novel so deeply, you would expect anyone bringing it to the stage to feel a weight of responsibility. But Danielle Jam is undaunted. Playing Chris Guthrie in a co-production between Dundee Rep and Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum, she has freed herself by making a shrewd observation.

“Whenever I told people I was doing it, they would go, ‘The book, the book, the book, my favourite book, I love the book,’” she says. “Everyone has so many positive things to say about it. But it was always different things they loved.”

She reasons that when the story appeals on so many levels and in different ways to different people, audiences are bound to get something from the adaptation. “Personally, I would be really excited just to see the story again,” she says. “We’re pulling the things from the book that we’re inspired by and that can only heighten those aspects that people love.” [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).