Set in 1967, McGuinness' play focuses on a group of people struggling through a time of change, whose lives are touched by the screen legend. The company features Angeline Ball (Sylvia Hennessy), Lisa Diveney (Colette Hennessy), Michelle Fairley (Paulie Hennessy), Daniel Gerroll (Matthew Dover), Caroline Lagerfelt (Greta Garbo), Owen McDonnell (James Hennessy), and Tom McKay (Harry Caulfield).
The creative team includes Robert Jones (production design), Matthew Eagland (lighting design), and Tom Lishman (sound design).
The reviews are in and are generally complimentary of McGuinness' work and both Lagerfelt's portrayal of the screen legend and Fairley's performance are receiving warm notices.
Among the reviews are:
Greta Garbo Came to Donegal, Tricycle Theatre, London
"Paulie is the great McGuinness woman in the play, and Michelle Fairley turns in a magnificent performance, as her protective cynicism peels away to reveal both regrets and still-active dreams."
"Much of the first half of the play feels like an obvious fantasy, but a delicious one; much of the second follows a conventional scheme of family revelations, but does so with sensitivity. McGuinness is not afraid of sentimentality, but he pinches it off before it begins to flow too freely."
Greta Garbo Came to Donegal
"...although the play traverses familiar territory, there is a stunning performance from the American actor Caroline Lagerfelt as Garbo. She not only has the right look of attenuated grace: she also captures the nomadic restlessness and amused irony of a woman who sees herself, along with Cardinal Spellman, as one of New York's "most confirmed bachelors." This rivetingly plausible evocation of a screen icon is well supported, in Nicolas Kent's production, by Michelle Fairley as the loveless, life-wasted Paulie..."
Greta Garbo Came to Donegal
"[The play has] a good set-up that could have backfired but doesn't thanks to the witty discretion in how McGuinness presents the catalytic arrival of the reclusive star in the Donegal backwater, and the raw passion with which he writes the ensuing domestic crisis; I haven't admired a play of his so much since Dolly West's Kitchen ten years ago."
"Caroline Lagerfelt is a perfect Garbo, high cheek-boned, funny, not remotely caricatured or ridiculous."
Greta Garbo Came to Donegal at the Tricycle Theatre, review
"McGuinness deftly mixes humour and pain, good jokes and darker moods, though he sometimes draws the historical background a touch laboriously."
"The great screen icon, in her early sixties when the play is set, is played with poised beauty, fascinating reserve and a bone-dry wit by Caroline Lagerfelt, who is also blessed with a delightful and authentic Swedish accent, since her own father was a Swedish diplomat."
"Michelle Fairley plays [Paulie] with a superb mixture of warmth, wit and submerged hurt, and the portrayal of the way this lonely woman comes as close to friendship with Garbo as the actress will ever allow, is the chief pleasure of the play."
Greta Garbo Came to Donegal at the Tricycle, NW6
"Nicolas Kent's production holds the attention, especially during those passages involving the odd, understated but undeniably mutual attraction that develops between the wary, watchful, maybe asexual, maybe bisexual Garbo and Dover's wise housekeeper, beautifully played by Michelle Fairley."