The Country Girl – Reviews Round-up

Jenny Seagrove and Martin Shaw reunite onstage in Clifford Odets’s The Country Girl at the Apollo Theatre, following their onscreen roles in Judge John Deed.

Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove
Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove

The Country Girl is the powerful story of washed-up actor Frank Elgin, a desperate and demanding alcoholic who is offered a comeback chance to star in the next Broadway play by hotshot director Bernie Dodd. Believing the actor’s long-suffering wife Georgie is the reason for his decline, Bernie strikes up a stormy relationship with her – but in 1950s New York how far will a woman go to redeem the man she loves?

The play is directed by Rufus Norris (Festen, Cabaret).

Read a round-up of press reviews for The Country Girl, below.

Average Critics Rating


"Rufus Norris's production goes on another journey, a sentimental one (and quotes that tune), but doesn't rise to the full majesty of the play: the peak is pique, the magic is tragic."
"It's hard to feel involved with the characters, or the battle for Frank's soul, until the last scenes, when Scott Pask's atmospheric backstage design is invaded by a sleek Broadway dressing room, and the offstage first night gathers momentum in excited hearsay. Norris plots this very well, and the surprise dramatic caesura is helped by an added, belated emotional urgency in the playing."
Michael Coveney, The Independent
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"What really got Odets's juices flowing, however, was creating the role of Frank. Martin Shaw, who played the director in 1983 in the last West End revival, gives it his all. Shaw hurls chairs about the stage (twice), beats his head against the dressing-room door and gives a fine study of a weak man who covers his fundamental insecurity in bluster."
"Odets wrote a gift part for a star actor, and it is one that Shaw seizes avidly by conveying the fear that lurks beneath the smell of the greasepaint."
Michel Billington, The Guardian
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"I had never seen the play before and last night it knocked me for six with its emotional truth and extraordinarily powerful depiction of the devastation caused by alcoholism."
"Rufus Norris's beautifully judged production the play is also exceptionally funny in its portrayal of the tantrums, crises and nerves attending a Broadway-bound production."
"But it is the performances of Martin Shaw as the old lush of an actor-laddie, all bombast, self-pity and manipulation, and Jenny Seagrove as his desperate wife, clenched with misery and anxiety as she tries to keep him on the straight and narrow, that ensure the production's success."
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph
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"We all enjoy the occasional glimpse at theatrical life backstage but this disappointing revival of Clifford Odets's 1950 drama, turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Grace Kelly, makes us wish we'd stayed firmly the other side of the footlights."
"Shaw has a decent stab at drunk and dishevelled, swigging with abandon at the cough mixture with the high alcohol content, but the real problem lies where the play's beating, bleeding heart should be. Even when expressing any sign of positivity - and there are few enough of these available to Georgie - Seagrove looks pinched and blanched of emotion, which results in a grim one-note performance."
Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard
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"The setting of Clifford Odets' 1951 play about an intense love triangle is backstage at a pre-Broadway theater in Boston, but in Rufus Norris' new West End production, it is less about putting on a show than it is about the masks people wear offstage."
"Stage veterans Shaw and Seagrove starred together in the BBC TV series "Judge John Deed," and they use that experience knowingly here."
Ray Bennett, Hollywood Reporter
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