Odet's, "The Country Girl", Is A Sex In The City Tale

by JACQUELINE CHANCER · June 2, 2008

    The Country GirlA belated birthday present from my significant other entailed dinner and tickets to a play, for which he stood in line at TKTS. The time spent on queue equated to a more than 50% discount on Broadway tickets for the revival of Clifford Odet's 1950 play, The Country Girl, no less. This star-studded drama featuring Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher and directed by Mike Nichols has been on Broadway since April (at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre - 242 W. 45th St.), it's nothing new in that sense but the riveting performances took my breath away (and not in that corny pre-Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise Top Gun sort of way).

    We were, perhaps, definitely not among the youngest audience members; it's not entirely too hard to believe, drama seems to deter young viewers, as they tend to gravitate towards musicals and other lavish contemporary productions. Unlike the other audience members I didn't have trouble hearing the dialogue as many complained of during intermission. Regardless, whether the words were decipherable or not, it was the tone and body language that dominated the stage.

    If you haven't heard anything about it, I'll give you a brief synopsis. It's essentially a play within a play, one could even add another within a play to that description. Freeman and McDormand (Georgie) play a sad married couple, with McDormand (Frank) the not so happy housewife and Freeman the ever aging (mimicking reality? Stories have said Freeman had difficulty remembering the lines in the play) washed up theater actor. Gallagher (Bernie) plays the director of the play who wholeheartedly believes in Frank and attempts to bring the true actor out of Frank.

    Freeman was made for this role. He was perfect in every aspect, age and career. Freeman's weary eyes and false happy demeanor truly wrung my heartstrings, as did McDormand's dogmatically faithful, sometimes bitchy persona. Despite Freeman's failings, the smile is always on McDormand's face though we watch it fade from her eyes throughout the course of the performance. Gallagher with his distinctive facial features truly brings the era to life.

    They say behind every powerful man, there lies a strong woman. Though, with the opposite sort of man, a similar woman still exists. Frank is weak, a mere puppet with which Georgie props up. He is on stage, while she waits in the wings. A typical timepiece relationship, Georgie has a chance to break free from Frank's grasp but she holds on like a true Country Girl. Sounds like a Sex in the City sort of plotline, huh? How many times has Carrie been in a situation like that? Dare I say, Mr. Big!

    Fashions will change, but this tale is one that will last. The play runs until July 20th. Run to TKTS today!