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Girl from the North Country - Old Vic

To The Cut last night to see Girl from the North Country, written and directed by Conor McPherson - he of The Weir. The story is set in a hotel in Duluth, Minnesota, in the ongoing Depression of 1934. Nick Laine is the hotel 'owner', although it is more accurate to state that the bank owes it, not him. Nick is married to Elizabeth, who now has dementia. They have two grown children - Marianne, a tall, graceful black girl whom they adopted when she was abandoned at the hotel years before and who now does a lot of the work in the hotel, as well as looking after her mama - and Gene, an alcoholic writer who doesn't seem to write - or certainly doesn't get published. The cast is an ensemble of characters - Mrs Neilson, with whom Nick is having an affair; Mr Burke and his wife and their 'simple' adult son, Elias; Doctor Walker; and Joe, who it seems has escaped from prison and is now en-route to Chicago, accompanied by a fellow escapee/bible salesman. The story is also told through the songbook of Bob Dylan. It's not a musical, but a hybrid. The singing was perfect. Not a duff note from anyone. But, for me, Shirley Henderson who plays Elizabeth Laine, was the stand-out performance as she embodied the dementia of her character through her every move and mannerism. Debbie Kurup, who plays Mrs Neilson, also stood out for her singing and dancing, as well as Ciaran Hinds as Nick Laine - not for his singing or dancing as such - but for the way in which his voice delivered every feeling of his predicament. It was a fantastic performance and the theatre was on its feet at the end. If you get the chance, go see it.

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