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Girl from the North Country

“Exceptional performances”

Conor McPherson’s musical, based around the songs of Bob Dylan and set in the musician’s birthplace of Duluth, Minnesota, is not a perfect show. The narrative is patchy, the script has a tendency to run to cliché, and the relationship between the selected songs and the storyline is somewhat tenuous. But, like Dylan’s own artistic output, it transcends. It succeeds in being emotionally true and compelling.

Returning to the West End for a second time following its original transfer from London’s Old Vic at the end of 2017, McPherson’s story follows the fortunes of a Depression Era family that owns a boarding house. Marianne (Gloria Obianyo), a young black woman adopted by the house’s white owners when she was abandoned as a baby, is pregnant and, in absence of the father, is being pressured to marry a much older, local man for money.

Gloria Obianyo in Girl from the North Country. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

The set-up holds a resemblance to the claustrophobic world contained in McPherson’s earlier play, The Weir, and there are strong echoes of Tennessee Williams’ fraught family dramas. Rae Smith’s cavernous, softly illuminated set design lends the impoverished locale an atmospheric, velvety quality.

It’s the performances that make it though. The new cast members do amazing work. There are several exceptional performances. Shaq Taylor is enigmatic and enviably naturalistic as boxer Joe Scott, but it’s Obianyo’s purely and distinctly beautiful performance of Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love) that steals the show. She’s clearly a star in the making.

Related to this Review

Girl from the North CountryGirl from the North Country

Production Details
Production nameGirl from the North Country
VenueGielgud Theatre
EndsFebruary 1, 2020
Running time2hrs 30mins
ComposerBob Dylan
Book writerConor Mcpherson
LyricistBob Dylan
DirectorConor Mcpherson
Musical directorTarek Merchant
Set designerRae Smith
Lighting designerMark Henderson
Sound designerSimon Baker
CastAnna-Jane Casey, Alan Vicary, Daniel Bailey, David Ganly, David Haydn, Donald Sage Mackay, Ferdy Roberts, Finbar Lynch, Gemma Sutton, Gloria Obianyo, Katie Brayben, Nicholle Cherrie, Rachel John, Shaq Taylor, Simon Gordon, Steffan Harri, Wendy Somerville, Colin Bates
ProducerDavid Mirvish, London Old Vic, Runaway, Sony Uk, Steven Lappin
VerdictNew cast delivers exceptional performances in the second West End run for the Bob Dylan musical
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Rosemary Waugh

Rosemary Waugh

Rosemary Waugh

Rosemary Waugh

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