Monday, 19 March 2012

Under Milk Wood in New Headingley Club

Richard Wilcocks writes:
Trio Literati’s and Theatre of the Dales’s current production of Dylan Thomas’s beautiful, funny and moving radio play from 1954 - Under Milk Wood – is one of the best I have seen on stage, intelligently directed, with much attention to detail, and impeccably acted. Every character lived life to the full in front of the audience last night in the New Headingley Club, even the dead ones, and it did not matter that the lighting was not up to playhouse standards, because Trio Lit and Theatre of the Dales can survive very well without it if necessary: they are veterans of pub and club rooms.

The play was sliced to about half of its original length by Adrian Metcalfe and David Robertson, and all the stitching was invisible. It was a wise, if not inevitable, move to manage without costumes and set (expensive, hard to cart around) although the cast wore a variety of striped tops to bond them together. They relied on the sort of movement which can be done in a small performance space, and the usual actor’s repertoire of voice, gesture and facial expression. It worked all the time. Nothing was ever touch-and-go. 

The Welsh accents sounded authentic enough to me, nicely varied to fit each member of the population of Llareggub. To pick out individual performances in a strong ensemble piece is difficult, but I have to record how much I loved the Reverend Eli Jenkins and his prayer, Butcher Beynon with his macabre sense of humour, Mr Mog Edwards the writer of letters, Mrs Pugh, at constant risk of ingesting poison, and Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard. I was moved to tears as always by Captain Cat’s memories of his dead lover Rosie Probert, and captivated by Myfanwy Price.

The cast included all of the Trio – Maggie Mash, Jane Oakeshott and Richard Rastall – together with Theatre of the Dales founder David Robertson and Arif Javid, a terrific Nogood Boyo.

1 comment:

  1. 'Beautiful, funny, moving'- you have got that just right- that is how I always think of 'Under Milk Wood'. What wonderful characters with their intriguing and funny names. I just love it- Gossamer Beynon, Ocky Milkman Polly Garter etc etc and I am always tempted to read the town's name backwards! I think that was the inspiration for Pratchett's country of Llamedos in 'Discworld' wasn't it.
    Your festival seems to be going from strength to strength- what a superb programme you have this year and the articles and reports on the blog are entertaining and interesting. I only wish I lived nearer to Leeds and could attend!