Girl from the North Country

Set in Duluth, Minnesota at the height of the Great depression, Girl from the North Country is a spine tingling and melancholy adaptation of the music of Bob Dylan. The show recounts the stories and interactions of a collection of wanderers brought through circumstance to the rundown guesthouse of Nick Laine. Nick’s wife is battling dementia, his black adopted daughter, Marianne, is pregnant and unwed and his son is an alcoholic writer still searching for a job.

The story progresses as other characters each enter with their own sorry story – amongst them a boxer looking to make his way to chicago, an elderly man determined to marry and ‘save’ Marianne, a couple with whose son has learning difficulties and a woman waiting on her inheritance. They converse, conflict and express their frustrations at their lives and hopes for the future.

Although technically a jukebox musical in that it uses previously existing music, the writing uses the music less as a storytelling device in and of itself and more as an accompanying expression of characters’ emotions, frustrations and experiences.

The music, movements and even the costume changes at the time of singing, transform the characters out of the bleak reality of their lives and into an alternative dreamscape. These seamless transformations, as the characters become background singers and crooners, exemplify perfectly the search for escape – the very thing that brought most to the guest house.

Although the subject matter could easily be immensely depressing – the exemplary acting and rhythm of the dialogue keeps it from being overtly dark. Instead, it becomes a reflective and at times utterly hypnotic commentary on the realities of life. You are given a snapshot into a group of people rather than a complete story and yet it is thoroughly gripping and wonderfully emotive. I don’t think I looked away from the stage once throughout the whole show.

The low lighting promotes a cosy atmosphere, whilst the simple set transforms to places around the guesthouse. It was also an absolute joy to be able to see the musicians on the stage as well.

Girl from the North Country is not your typical happy glittery musical. However it is beautifully acted, has songs that will send chills down your spine and a story that will leave you emotional and keep you thinking.

Tickets and show information can be found here

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