Girl from the North Country, Old Vic Theatre, London

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Girl from the North Country contains three or four intertwining stories. These are slight, almost sketches really, but are beautifully told so that we care about the people we see on stage. It contains about twenty songs from Dylan’s back catalogue. These are used, in  an abstract way, to accentuate the drama rather than to move the narrative forward. It would be misleading to call this a musical, it is more a play with musical accompaniment.

The prose and the songs complement each other very well. Given the quality of the cast, the strength of the acting is no surprise. The singing, orchestration and choreography are the revelation. There are some amazing voices in the ensemble. Shirley Henderson and Jack Shalloo, in particular, shock when they sing, but every song is delivered well. The impact of a downtrodden, beaten character suddenly opening their vocal cords is not to be underestimated. Even the songs that I already knew, appeared to be given new life in the context of the play.

The reception of the audience was good, it is not too often that the whole audience stands at the end. I enjoyed this show, Conor McPherson and Bob Dylan are a combination that go together very well.

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9 thoughts on “Girl from the North Country, Old Vic Theatre, London

  1. As it’s set in a boarding House,in Duluth, Minnesota, I think it’s a very clever device to introduce the characters by their back stories which unfold throughout the narrative & it’s executed well
    by Conor McPherson.allowing the viewer to eavesdrop into the interaction. We realise that each character has a story to reveal which interacts with the trauma happening within the Laine household & their struggle for ‘survival’. I agree totally regarding the strength of the singer/actors~ their performances are nothing short of #Amazing, each putting their own indelible print onto the prose of Bob Dylan. Shirley Henderson gave a very nuanced performance, flitting through the vagaries in her mind, whimsical, wild & unusual. Poignant & powerful renditions of ‘I Want You’, ‘Like A Rollin’Stone’ & ‘Make You Feel My Love’, left me dewy-eyed. Kudos to Arinze Kene who delivered the lyrics to ‘Hurricane’ Sheila Atim’s voice is right on the money, together with vocals from Debbie Kurup, who gave a killer performance in ‘Anything Goes’. Sam Reid as Gene & Claudia Jolly as Katherine broke hearts with their duet.
    Some delicious repartee expertly delivered by Ciarán Hinds as Nick Laine provided moments of light relief ~
    ”Don’t confuse me with my own double standards’ … which was a ‘hit’. Ciarán Hinds says he does n’t get asked to do comedy, but his satirical delivery is ‘spot-on’ & there were a few little ‘gems’ sprinkled throughout the narrative. As for audience reception, I’d say ‘exceptional’~ a few standing ovations and the audience on their feet applauding & whistles throughout the theatre. My daughter was beside herself & thought it was the best play she’d ever seen, alongside another McPherson play she saw @ the Donmar ‘The Night Alive’ She would buy the soundtrack to Girl From The North Country, Yes, it was that #Good….If you see just #One play this year, make it this one!

    Liked by 2 people

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