On the stage door wall of the Noel Coward Theatre in the heart of the West End is a wonderful poster for GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY featuring the two leads, Ciaran Hinds and Shirley Henderson. I got out my pad and sketched it… and they signed it for me.
I was really pleased to see both were nominated for Olivier Awards for their ‘mesmerising’ performances, which will be announced early next month. After a sold-out run at the Old Vic, Connor McPherson’s production, featuring the music of Bob Dylan is set in the Depression era, in a guesthouse in Bob’s hometown, Duluth, Minnesota, run by the gruff owner Nick Laine (Ciaran) and his wife Elizabeth (Shirley) who suffers from dementia. They anchor a large ensemble cast.
Irish playwright and director Conor McPherson’s new Dust Bowl drama GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, incorporating the music of Bob Dylan, opened last Summer with a sell-out run at The Old Vic, before transferring to the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End. Claire Allfree, in The Telegraph headlined her review with “A magical fusion of Dylan and the Depression.”
Conor beautifully weaves the iconic songs (21 of them) of Bob Dylan into his show of hope, heartbreak and soul. It is set in a struggling guesthouse in Dylan’s hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, during the Great Depression, where poverty is rife amongst the gathering of the dispossessed and the most affected citizens… a place Ben Brantley in the New York Times describes as “a corner of the United States where it is all too easy to lose your way.”
The production and the cast has received unanimous critical acclaim, with Scottish BAFTA-winning actress Shirley Henderson portrayal of Elizabeth Laine, the wife of the inn-keeper Nick ( Ciaran Hinds) gaining special mention. In the grip of dementia and nearly feral, Shirley’s performance is nothing short of mesmerising.
“Henderson delivers a smoking version of ‘Like A Rolling Stone’,” wrote Natasha Tripney in TheStage. I met Shirley at the stage door last weekend after a matinee, where she signed my montage sketch for me.