Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas, Aug 30, 2005

Under Milkwood  by Dylan Thomas  
 by McPherson Ink
Atheneaum Theatre 1, Aug 30 to  Sept 3, 2005
Colac, Moonee Ponds, Geelong, Werribee, Horsham, Hamilton, Sale, Frankston until Sept 29, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 30, 2005

The cobbled lanes and entire eccentric population of the fictional Welsh coastal village of Llareggub burst into life in this production of Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood.

Thomas called it a "play for voices" and it is impossible to do justice to his lush, vivid, lilting poetic language on this page.

Four actors (Daniel Craig, Beverley Dunn, Dion Mills, Charmaine Gorman), directed by Don Mackay, inhabit the countless bawdy, loving, yearning, petulant and gossiping characters in this ninety minute version of the play.

Thomas lived part of his beer-soaked life as a poet in the Welsh village of Laugharne and one can imagine him jotting down his observations of the townsfolk in the pub and on the streets over the years to form the final script of Under Milkwood.

It is a rich, inspired and irreverent view of the passions and yearnings, loves and losses, venomous hatred and long-held rivalries, all heard on one spring day in Llareggub.

The actors share the three narrator voices that paint the landscape and characters of Llareggub. (Spell it backward) Each actor also plays numerous characters with his or her own distinctive style and great conviction and relish.

The narrators allow us to see the village but it is blind old seafaring Captain Cat (Craig) who allows us to hear it through his hypersensitive ears.

The actors transform from one character to another with a swift shift in body and voice and the addition of a scarf, a hat or jacket.

Although Thomas' called it a play for voices and the creamy Welsh accents and lyrical language are definitely the focus, the script lends itself generously to the embodiment of its unique characters.

There is a delicate balance of loving and despising in Under Milkwood.

Mog Edwards, draper, (Mills) writes soulful love letters to his loved one, Myfanwy Price (Gorman), dressmaker and candy shop keeper. Mrs. Cherry Owen (Gorman), adores her loving husband Mr. Owen, (Mills) even when he reels drunkenly from the pub.

Innkeeper, Sinbad Sailors, (Mills) pines for his unrequited love, pretty Gossamer Beynon (Gorman) and promiscuous Polly Garter (Gorman) sings a wrenching song about her long dead lover, Wee Willy. Even Captain Cat weeps for his dead Rosie Probert.

The harsher underbelly of Llareggub is seen in schoolmaster, Mr. Pugh (Mills) who secretly plans the poisoning death of his nasty wife. (Dunn) while Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard (Dunn) still controls her two dead husbands from her dreamy sleep.

Under Milkwood is a unique and complex language play, passionate, raucous, raunchy and profoundly moving and funny.

By Kate Herbert

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