Review: Under Milk Wood @ New Theatre
To begin at the beginningâ€¦ with this review.
It is a cold, yet redeeming Wednesday night.
Dylan Thomas lives in a theatre, on the radio and in our hearts.
We shall celebrate his century of his birth.
This son of Wales (who would despise such a distinction) has undoubtedly written some of the finest Wales-based English language prose and poetry.
Discussions with an old friend the other day resulted in my sheer astonishment when I realised he had never heard of Under Milk Wood, but had heard of Thomas (he is from Barry). Milling through an old book shop, I spotted the radio play on vinyl and hastily placed it under his nose. Because my friend is working on a Wales-inspired graphic novel, I felt an education was in order considering the work’s fame and significance.
If you get the ensemble just right for the play, it's theatrical dynamite. The cast here were this and proved just how importance this work is for Wales, as they will soon embark on a world tour of the production. This is honestly a play about nothing in particular, yet it radiates such eloquence and enchanting forces. The little descriptions Thomas speaks of as the village of Llareggub (which is cleverly 'bugger all' backwards) sleeps are relatable and seen in the freshest of poetic eyes. This is a nostalgic slice of old Wales and which we should, as a nation, be proud.
This ensemble had some familiar local faces as well. So many whistle-stop characters to play by these actors who in listing alone, can be head turning over just who played who. Katie Elin-Salt who I last saw in Educating Rita (and I made sure she got a nomination at the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards for this), was beaming as usual. As Polly Garter, her rendition of I Loved A Man was near tear-shedding territory, as she recounts her loves in life. From High Hopes and Bakers Boys, the unmistakable face of Steven Meo, who flamed things up as Willy Nilly, the supposedly gay postman. A callous Sinbad Sailors and rambunctious Organ Morgan and Ocky Milkman as well. Owen Teale was First Voice, our narrator for the action on stage. He contributed an old charm and whimsy to the role, giving him a mix of Hugh Bonneville and even of Thomas himself.
With all the body fluids mentioned, silly voices and catty gossipy devices, this is still very much a Wales long gone; only fragments remain today. A shame and a relief to those who would care.
Buy a ticket very soon.
Want to win a Sprout T-shirt? Fill in theSprout Satisfaction Survey!
Photo Credit: Catharine Ashmore