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.
Half a century after it’s premiere on the Old Vic stage, ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, the philosophical tragicomedy play that made a young Tom Stoppard’s name overnight, returned to the same venue with Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire in the title roles. Originally booked until the end of April, the season has been extended until this weekend due to popular demand.
It’s the ultimate identity crisis when two hapless minor characters, flipping coins while watching Shakespeare’s HAMLET from the wings. In his four-star review the Guardian’s Michael Billington said, “Radcliffe is perfectly matched by Joshua McGuire in a nimble hire-wire act that balances quickfire humour with a poignant awareness of death.” Both Dan and Joshua signed my sketch a couple of weeks ago after a Saturday evening performance at the Old Vic.
Welsh comedian and ‘fully fledged light entertainment personality’ Rob Brydon is currently starring in Future Conditional, the first production at the Old Vic theatre under its new artistic director Matthew Warchus, who has taken over from Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey. The play tackles the challenges of the British schooling system – a subject I have a close working knowledge of- written by Royal Court director-turned-writer Tamsin Oglesby. Rob plays an English Teacher, God held him. And it was the good Lord who was uttered as he saw this sketch when I stopped him whizzing out of the Old Vic stage door on Saturday night. I think it was an exclamation of admiration rather than a call to the almighty for help. “Oh my Lord,” he gasped followed by “Yes,yes.yes.”- the holy trinity of confirmation to my signing request.
Lucy Bailey’s new staging of Ivan Turgenev’s savagely funny FORTUNE’S FOOL completes its successful season at the Old Vic this week. It featured Iain Glen and Richard McCabe in the lead roles, until the former had to recently leave the production following doctor’s advice. Critics praised the play, with The Observer calling it a “little masterpiece”. It described Iain’s performance as “perfect” and Richard was “magnificent”. Unfortunately, I waited at the stage door with this drawing on the day Iain left the show. Richard, as usual was happy to sign, but I missed Iain and finding out about his illness and subsequent withdrawal presented a different kind of challenge. Rats! Fortunately, I decided to leave it at the Theatre with a note and return envelope in the hope that someone may pass it on to Iain along with a bundle of ‘get well’ cards. And indeed hope sprang eternal… well it sprung a siggy and dedication from the man himself, which arrived by post yesterday.