Bob Dylan might be envious of Sting’s and Springsteen’s Broadway debuts, or perhaps it’s his age, but he seems to be looking for alternative ways to expand his audience (i.e. the recent announcement of Luca Guadagnino’s film adaptation of the Dylan album ‘Blood on the Tracks’). In the Girl from North Country, Irish playwright Conor McPherson uses Mr. Dylan’s songs to help tell a story of desperate people during a desperate time – the American Depression.
The play takes place in a dilapidated, foreclosed boarding house in Duluth, Minnesota. The owner dreams of a life he’ll never have, his wife is demented (or is she?), their son is an alcoholic wanna-be writer and their daughter, an adopted African American girl, is unmarried and pregnant (have you reached for the tissues yet?) Their down on their luck boarders can’t afford to pay for their rooms and each has his/her own sad personal background story. The play’s themes of sexual assault, lack of morality and hate crimes felt trite, especially since these types of stories are reported daily. The only thing fresh was the music. The lyrics are recognizable but the music has been completely rearranged.
Girl from North Country is neither a drama, nor a musical. Rather Mr. McPherson uses the songs as an aside or commentary in the telling of his characters’ stories – “How does it feel, how does it feel? To be without a home, Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone”. I’ve never been a Bob Dylan fan and I wasn’t fan of this show, but the orchestrations and arrangements by Simon Hale and Conor McPherson made for the best Dylan music I’ve ever heard. LAR
The Public Theater – Newman Theater – 425 Lafayette St,
Ticket Prices – start at $120
Discount tickets – TKTS
Running time – 2 hours, 30 minutes w/ one intermission
Runs thru – December 23, 2018