The Country Girl

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?

1952: Original West End London Production

1983: 1st West End London Revival

2010: 2nd West End London Revival

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.

For the West End Premiere in 1952, in order to avoid confusion with William Wycherley's The Country Wife, they play was renamed Winter Journey.


1952: Original West End London Production

Opened 3 April 1952, Closed 1 November 1952 at the St James's Theatre (now demolished)

Performed under the title Winter Journey, in order to avoid confusion with William Wycherley's The Country Wife.

The cast featured Michael Redgrave as 'Frank Elgin' (up to Saturday 4 October 1952), Alexander Knox as 'Frank Elgin' (from Monday 6 October 1952), Googie Withers as 'Georgie Elgin' (up to Saturday 4 October 1952), Constance Cummings as 'Georgie Elgin' (from Monday 6 October 1952), Sam Wanamaker as 'Bernie Dodd', Guy Kingsley Poynter as 'Larry', Robert Perceval as 'Phil Cook', Arthur Hill as 'Paul Unger, Hazel Penwarden as 'Nancy Stoddard', and Ian Main as 'Ralph'.

Directed by Sam Wanamaker, with sets by Anthony Holland.

The St James Theatr'se was a 1,200-seat theatre located in King Street in St James's, London.


1983: 1st West End London Revival

Previewed 20 September 1983, 27 September 1983, 14 July 1984 at the Apollo Theatre

The cast featured John Stride as 'Frank Elgin', Hannah Gordon as 'Georgie Elgin' (up to Saturday 24 March 1984), Susan George (from Monday 26 March 1984), Martin Shaw as 'Bernie Dodd' (up to Saturday 10 March 1984), Patrick Mower (from Monday 12 March 1984), Michael Percival as 'Larry', Simon Merrick as 'Phil Cook', Stephen Hoye as 'Paul Unger, Kate Dorning as 'Nancy Stoddard', and Dominic Snowdon as 'Ralph'.

Directed by Robin Lefevre, with designs by John Byrne, and lighting by Dave Horn.


2010: 2nd West End London Revival

Previewed 6 October 2010, Opened 11 October 2010, Closed 22 January 2011 at the Apollo Theatre

A major revival of Clifford Odets' play The Country Girl in London starring Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove

The cast featured Martin Shaw as 'Frank Elgin', Jenny Seagrove as 'Georgie Elgin', Mark Letheren as 'Bernie Todd', Peter Harding as 'Larry', Nicholas Day as 'Phil Cook', Luke Shaw as 'Paul Unger, and Tom Cornish as 'Ralph'.

Directed by Rufus Norris, with sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Jonathan Lipman, lighting by Mark Howett, and sound by Ben Harrison.

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 London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Sir Thomas More' in Michael Rudman's revival of Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons at the Haymarket Theatre in 2005; 'Lord Goring' in Peter Hall's revival of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband at the Globe Theatre (now Gielgud Theatre) in 1992, at the Haymarket Theatre in 1996 and at the Globe Theatre (now Gielgud Theatre) in 1997; 'Robert' in David Leveaux's revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the Almeida Theatre in 1991; 'Vernon Gersch' in David Taylor's production of the Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager musical They're Playing Our Song at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1981; and 'Jean' in John Cox's revival of August Stringberg's Miss Julie at the Greenwich Theatre in 1976.

Jenny Seagrove's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Delia' in Peter Hall's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2010; 'Ann Prentice' in Roy Marsden's production of Agatha Christie's A Daughter's A Daughter at the Trafalgar Studios in 2009; 'Leslie Crosbie' in Alan Strachan's revival of William Somerset Maugham's The Letter at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2007; 'Marion' in Alan Strachan's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular at the Garrick Theatre in 2007; 'Hannah Jelkes' in Anthony Page's revival of Tennessee Williams' The Night Of The Iguana at the Lyric 2005; 'Isobel' in Guy Retallack's revival of David Hare's Secret Rapture at the Lyric 2003; 'Constance Middleton' in Edward Hall's revival of William Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife at the Apollo Theatre in 2002; 'Olive Madison' in Elijah Moshinsky's production of Neil Simon's The (female) Odd Couple at the Apollo Theatre in 2001; 'Laura' in Roger Redfarn's production of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter at the Lyric Theatre in 2000; 'Julia' in Auriol Smith's producton of Richard Harris' Dead Guilty at the Apollo Theatre in 1995; 'Annie Sullivan' in Richard Olivier's revival of William Gibson's The Miracle Worker at the Comedy Theatre in 1994; and 'Joanna Lyppiatt' in Tom Conti's revival of Noel Coward's Present Laughter at the Globe Theatre in 1993.

"Clifford Odets's highly watchable drama is a juicy portrait of 1950s backstage life, lovingly recreated in Rufus Norris's production. Odets focuses on an emotional tug-of-war between Bernie Dodd, a young, driven director; Elgin, the washed-up former star whom Dodd risks casting in his latest production; and Georgie, Elgin's wife, who long ago discovered her husband's failings... Martin Shaw creates a devastating portrait of Elgin as a lying, vain, desolate drunk. Jenny Seagrave is impressively controlled as Georgie, but can't overcome the fact that the woman is a little too saintly for comfort." 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

"It's only in the final half-hour that Rufus Norris's revival really starts to bite emotionally... Producer Bill Kenwright is undoubtedly banking on the appeal of his leading couple, Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove. Initially, both seem miscast. Shaw's Frank comes over as modestly uncharismatic, while Seagrove's Georgie is so clenched she appears inexpressive. Gradually, though, script and cast begin to work a little magic and what emerges is a powerful portrait of a marriage stricken by adversity." The London Metro

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.