A Drunk Woman Looks at the Thistle
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 21–Sat 26 Apr
Grappling with questions of Scottish identity, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle is acknowledged as Hugh MacDiarmid’s finest work, and an integral part of the modern Scottish Renaissance movement. Now author Denise Mina has adapted the poem for the stage as part of Òran Mór’s A Play, a Pie and a Pint programme.
While the swapped gender seems the most dramatic change, performer Karen Dunbar emphasises that it’s not heavily significant: ‘It would have been great if it could have been a drunk person,’ she laughs. ‘But there’s something in there to offend everybody, just like the original.’
The piece has been completely rewritten with modern references, some more obscure than others. But Dunbar expresses her faith in Mina’s capabilities: ‘I love her description and flow of language, and she’s so funny. Her work Garnethill is tragic, for instance, and yet you find yourself laughing.’
Mina’s version keeps to the theme of a serious appraisal of the Scottish personality, and while Dunbar’s focus seems to be on entertainment, the piece is also intended to be thought-provoking. ‘I don’t see myself as someone who’s here to change the world,’ says Dunbar, ‘but with this piece in particular, at the very least it can make people think. I encourage people to come and see it with an open mind.’