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Girl From The North Country


How do you write a review if you thought the production was dire despite featuring the music of the greatest song writer/musician Bob Dylan of a generation?

Well Girl from the North Country is set in the 1930s era of the American depression, and I am sorry to say that is exactly how it made me feel – depressed.

The set was dark, the characters confusing AND I just didn’t like it although lots of the audience (who were wearing coats and scarves in the first half because if was so cold) were really enthusiast at the end.

Probably because after two hours and 40 minutes it was the end?

I thought what a lump of misery as it deals with poverty, abuse – including rape, prejudice, illness, addiction, parental abandonment, an unplanned pregnancy, and homelessness – not necessarily in that order.

While it was called a musical it began as a play, the dancing was short and sweet, spoken sound mumbled and the storyline sadly didn’t crystallise.

But don’t take my word for it, fellow X7 bus traveller, English teacher Martin Allen, who lives in Long Ashton, said on the way home: “The first thing to say about the show is that it is Bob Dylan songs in a way that was hard to relate to the narrative.

“The songs were there, I enjoyed the songs, but I couldn't quite work out the thread, which was running through the narrative of it, it was fairly depressing and fairly disjointed from the story.

“However, having said that there were some outstanding performances especially Frances McNamee as Elizabeth Laine, I loved her movements.

“She is clearly a trained dancer and the choreography for some of the group dancers was quite impressive.

“There was a strange Elvis Presley kind-of white light suit moment (think teen angel cameo in Grease) which I didn't see how that fitted in or where he came from although it was quite entertaining.

“Perhaps it was the person who died on the beach, an angelic divine descent?

Does the theatre critic protest too much, go and form your own opinion

“I heard someone on the way out say, 'the songs were good but I wouldn't recommend it'.

“Well of course the songs are good they are Bob Dylan songs, most of his best songs although you wouldn't recognise some of them.

“I saw Bob Dylan live in London three months ago, he was singing, shuffling about on stage, doing R&B, he was tremendous for an octogenarian, and I was just thinking how different the quality was of Bob Dylan, aged 81, and this cast who undoubtedly are immensely talented performed his work and sadly they were some way off.

“Would I recommend this musical, probably not, I would give it three stars out of five, the story and the work didn't gel, and the drummer seemed out of place.”

There you have it 24-strong cast trying to make sense of the senseless without the overlapping of a slick stage farce.

A case of too many and not enough.

The musical is based on a book by Irish writer and director Conor McPherson.

It is the second Broadway show to use Dylan's music after dance choreographer Twyla Tharp's used the songs of the ‘voice of protest’ for The Times They Are a-Changin show.

The show plays Bristol from Tuesday to Saturday, January 31-February 4.

Tickets from £13 plus online booking fee from

Carol Deacon

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