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BrumHour saw Girl from the North Country at the invite of The Alexandra.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains both strong language and racial slurs, details of sexual assault and coercion.
Review: Girl From The North Country at The Alexandra
⭐⭐⭐⭐”An absorbing tale with interesting characters”
Written and directed by Conor McPherson, music and lyrics by Bob Dylan
Set in the 1930s in Duluth, Minnesota in the United States, Girl from the North Country explores the lives of a group of people at a guest house managed by Nick Laine (Colin Connor) who lives there with his wife Elizabeth (Frances McNamee) who suffers from challenging mental and physical health issues, their son Gene (Gregor Milne) who is a drunk and adopted daughter, Marianne (Justina Kehinde). We are swiftly introduced to the people staying in the guest house, all of whom seem to be carrying their own secrets…
I didn’t know most of the Bob Dylan songs featured in this musical and here they are used in a folk chorus style with many solo moments, there is an on-stage band throughout and the music manages not to overpower the lyrics. I’d made sure I’d not read anything at all about this production or the story as I wanted to see what someone going as a plus one might experience. (This is partly why I’ve not revealed much of the plot above).
Tonally the tracks used feel like they are from a different era to the story (Perhaps Peaky Blinders style), and this give more of a timeless feeling to the story set in a small town. The costumes are very much from the era, sometimes the songs get in the way of the story they are inspiring, and I found the conclusion fairly rushed after investing in these characters for two hours. There’s a sense we are seeing snapshots of these lives as they cross over each other.
The stage floor is a large grid with backdrops coming down from the rafters and provides a level of openness which contrasts with the behaviour of the audience. And whilst the choreography is confidently implemented it sometimes feels like our actors fade into the background to become the dance team.
I really enjoyed this production, even though people who didn’t quite know the lyrics or how to sing in tune, were sat behind me throughout! Oh dear! The stunning vocals on stage from Justina Kehinde and Frances McNamee in particular more than made up for this.
Girl from the North Country is at The Alexandra until 11th February 2023. Book tickets using BrumHour’s affiliate link >> HERE <<.