Songs of innocence and experience

“Praise the Lord! We are a musical nation.” under milk wood, richmond theatre, london

Dylan Thomas’s ‘play for voices’ is not just one of the greatest radio dramas of all time, it is also the definitive argument that language can be as profoundly musical as any symphony or sonata. Part lyrical spoken-word poem, part vigorous comedy of manners, Under Milk Wood evokes a teeming world of 60-odd characters and their duties, dreams and deepest desires during 24 hours in the sleepy Welsh seaside town of Llareggub (read backwards for a taste of the poet’s sly wit).

For the 60th anniversary of its first BBC radio broadcast, and in Thomas’s centenary year, Terry Hands and Clwyd Theatr Cymru have produced a stage version of this great work, which both enhances and occasionally hampers its intense aural pleasures. Hands directs with palpable affection, and the spirited cast deliver the material with relish and warm humour, but the too-literal staging sometimes just doubles up the spoken storytelling, Hands hamstrung by the lack of action; Under Milk Wood is composed entirely of exquisitely small incidents.

Read my full Bargain Theatreland review here

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