Previewed 6 October 2010, Opened 11 October 2010, Closed 22 January 2011 at the Apollo Theatre in London
A major revival of Clifford Odets' play The Country Girl in London starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove and directed by Rufus Norris
Clifford Odets' award-winning play 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 cast for this stage production of The Country Girl in London stars Martin Shaw as 'Frank Elgin', Jenny Seagrove as 'Georgie Elgin' and Mark Letheren as 'Bernie Todd' along with Peter Harding, Nicholas Day, Luke Shaw and Thomasin Rand. The production is directed by Rufus Norris with designs by Scott Pask, lighting by Mark Howett and sound by Ben Harrison. Martin Shaw has previously played the role of 'Bernie Todd' in a revival of The Country Girl staged here at the Apollo Theatre in 1983 when he starred opposite Hannah Gordon.
"Like its cinematic contemporary, All About Eve, Clifford Odets's highly watchable drama is a juicy portrait of 1950s backstage life, lovingly re-created in Rufus Norris's production... Martin Shaw creates a devastating portrait of Elgin as a lying, vain, desolate drunk. Jenny Seagrove is impressively controlled as Georgie... The rest of the company hover around the trio, providing some welcome humour." The Sunday Times
"Tonight we're not at home to Mr Sloppy,' says the mildly camp stage manager in American playwright Clifford Odets' backstage drama The Country Girl, in one of the play's rare laughs. It's certainly the case in Rufus Norris's atmospheric revival. Unfortunately, though, for the first half of the play, we are at home instead to Mr Dull... It's not until the final half-hour that the play catches fire, when it suddenly becomes evident that everyone on both sides of the footlights is using everyone else. Not only is Odets concerned with the way alcohol destroys the life of the drinker, but with the subtler matter of the co-dependency of partners... Both the play and this production finally come together, but only just in time." The Mail on Sunday
Clifford Odets' play The Country Girl originally opened on Broadway on 10 November 1950 where it enjoyed an eight month run, winning two Tony Awards including 'Best Actress in a Play' for Uta Hagen. The play was subsequently made into a film in 1954 starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and William Holden which won two Oscars including 'Best Actress in a Play' for Grace Kelly. In London, to avoid confusion with William Wycherley's The Country Wife, it was renamed Winter Journey when it opened at the St James' Theatre on 3 April 1952 for an eight month run up to 1 November 1952 in a production which starred Michael Redgrave and Googie Withers along with a critically acclaimed break-through performance from Sam Wanamaker as 'Bernie Todd'. It was revived at the Apollo Theatre on 27 September 1983 in a production starring Martin Shaw as 'Bernie Dodd' with Hannah Gordon and John Stride which enjoyed a run of just over nine months before closing on 14 July 1984.
Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove are probably best today for their roles as the High Court judge 'Sir John Deed' and the barrister 'Jo Mills' in the top rated BBC1 legal drama Judge John Deed. Martin Shaw's most recent London West End stage appearance was A Man For All Seasons at The Haymarket Theatre in 2006. His role as Ray Doyle in the iconic TV series The Professionals ensured his status as a British screen idol of the late 1970s. Jenny Seagrove's extensive London theatre credits have seen her play lead roles in almost every West End playhouse. Her most recent West End performance was in Peter Hall's critically-acclaimed production of Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce (Duke of York's Theatre 2010). Her other recent credits include Agatha Christie's A Daughter's A Daughter (Trafalgar Studios 2009), Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular (Garrick Theatre 2007), Somerset Maugham's The Letter (Wyndham's Theatre 2007) and Tennessee Williams's The Night Of The Iguana (Lyric Theatre 2006). This production of The Country Girl in London marks the first time that Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove have appeared on stage together in a play.
The Country Girl in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 6 October 2010, opened on 11 October 2010 and closed on 22 January 2011.