On Saturday night I went to the Opera House to watch the STC’s production of Under Milk Wood.
I confess I knew nothing about Milk Wood at all.
Mr Books had studied and loved this book at school and still raves about the Richard Burton version over 25 years later. He suggested that I go in cold, so I restrained myself from all google searches and arrived at the theatre with absolutely no idea what I was going to see.
Although that is not completely true.
I knew that Dylan Thomas was Welsh, so I assumed the play would be set in a Welsh village. I knew that Dylan liked his liquor and assumed there would be references to drinking and I knew that Jack Thompson was the narrator for this particular production.
I also thought that I knew that this being a STC production it would be played at Pier 4 Wharf Theatre. On presenting our tickets at the door at Pier 4 we were told we were at the wrong venue. It did say this very clearly on the ticket, I just didn’t read it because I assumed!
A quick dash around the Quay saw us arrive at the Opera House only 5 minutes late.
A very kind, understanding usher allowed us in the back way (and the other couple who also went to the wrong venue). The back way actually took us through one of the prop storage areas not normally viewed by the public. It was fascinating in a rushed kind of way.
And suddenly we were in a darkened room hearing the iconic, laconic tones of Jack Thompson as day broke on Llareggub and the townsfolk awoke.
I quickly realised that we were following the lives of various characters through one day. I loved the multi-roles the actors played – how they embodied each one subtly by changing one article of clothing, one prop or one physical characteristic.
I loved the roll and the rhythm and the play of the language. I loved the ordinary dramas of everyday life. I loved the humour and the sympathy with which Thomas drew his characters.
And I would love to see other productions of this wonderful play.
Commissioned by the BBC, and described by Dylan Thomas as ‘a play for voices’, UNDER MILK WOOD takes the form of an emotive and hilarious account of a spring day in the fictional Welsh seaside village of Llareggub.We learn of the inhabitants’ dreams and desires, their loves and regrets. The play introduces us to characters such as Captain Cat who dreams of his drowned former seafellows and Nogood Boyo who dreams of nothing at all. It is a unique and touching depiction of a village that has ‘fallen head over bells in love’.The First Voice narration reveals the ordinary world of daily happenings and events, while the Second Voice conveys the intimate, innermost thoughts of the fascinating folk of Llareggub.