Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Conor McPherson’s production which has transferred to Broadway following runs at the Old Vic and the West End.
The New York Times: “Yet while this singular production, which opened on Thursday night at the Belasco Theater under McPherson’s luminous direction, evokes the Great Depression with uncompromising bleakness, it is ultimately the opposite of depressing. That’s because McPherson hears America singing in the dark. And those voices light up the night with the radiance of divine grace.”
Broadway World: “With so many characters and so many musical moments not scripted specifically for them, McPherson doesn’t present a plot as much as a collage of encounters reflecting the kind of working class struggles Dylan wrote about. The songs don’t come out of the dialogue but play more like unspoken spiritual cries, usually directed right to the audience.”
The Guardian: ★★★★ “Occasionally the lyrics serve the story directly, as in Scott’s scintillating ‘Hurricane’, unnecessarily mixed with ‘All Along the Watchtower’. But more often, they urge the show into a symbolic space, making of the character’s quotidian griefs something starker and more elemental, lifting Girl From the North Country toward transcendence.”
Rolling Stone: ★★★★ “To its credit, Girl From the North Country doesn’t offer up a false, crowd-pleasing closer; it’s as sober as the historical moment it depicts. (It’s like Mamma Mia! on downers.) By the end of the show, the random encounters have left some characters broken and others uplifted; one of them dies. But like a Dylan show with strangely rearranged songs and a baffling set list, it leaves you both humming its songs and puzzling over what you just witnessed.”
Deadline.com: “Broadway staging of Girl From The North Country retains its wistful affection and respect for these Depression Era everypeople, these stand-ins for the countless unnamed or forgotten who suffered the breadlines and dust storms, died in later wars or alone in empty houses, and whose stories are eminently worthy of a genius’ attention.”
The New York Post: ★★ “There are many other Dylan songs here, including the 1963 title number, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Hurricane’, and they’re all performed well, often accompanied by an onstage band. But McPherson’s staging tends to slow and tone them down. ‘Girl’ trades Dylan’s rebel twang for a consistent funeral-hymn vibe that oversimplifies a diverse 60-year career. To make a musical score cohesive doesn’t mean every song must sound the same.”
Variety: “As directed by the playwright, an inspired ensemble of actor-singers assume the identities of residents of the boarding house, along with those people from town who drop in to share in the misery. And when they need to, the players smoothly re-assemble themselves into a full-throated chorus that provides musical commentary on the sad sights they witness. Anyone who associates Dylan’s songs exclusively with his own eccentric delivery of them should be astounded by the depth and insights that professional actors with great voices can bring to them.”
Girl From the North Country continues to play at the Belasco Theater, New York.