March 12th, 2020

critic

Girl From the North Country


I don’t know, Linus. I just don’t know.

The songs here are tested as poetry. The book...isn’t. Connection between the characters does develop, though maybe as much from the wrenching, musical end to the story as because they start actually interacting in the scenes. It’s how the show is directed, but now how it’s written, and I don’t think the disconnect between song and story really works. Playing the scenes as actual people talking to each other would probably make the whole thing bleaker, but if that’s what the piece is, then own it. Or at least speak it all like you mean it.

Well, the songs are outside the story. They’re commentary. So, the disconnect. And the characters manage to connect only at the last moment, so of course they’re talking past each other for most of the time. It all makes structural sense, I’m just not sure it works. It calls attention it itself, says “Oooo, look at this thing I’m doing.” The narration should bridge the divide. The doctor, years later (and long dead), is an Austin Pendleton sort of character. But he rattles off his narration just like the rest of the actual scenes, not really letting it land. It’s a separate part of the thing, but he’s not playing it that way.

So, unsettled. I understand it, I respect it. I liked parts of it, and some of the performance very much. I thought it was ultimately affecting. But as a whole I don’t think I liked it.