Review: Staying true to Thomas

theatre “Under Milk Wood” By Dylan Thomas Directed by Duncan Ley Canberra Repertory, Until April 27. Reviewed by Simone Penkethman

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

THIS Dylan Thomas masterpiece is widely regarded as one of the greatest works in English literature.

Director Duncan Ley focuses on the work’s uniqueness firmly in time and place. The result is a highly accessible and extremely enjoyable exploration of Thomas’ amoral and, at times, surreal tale.

Originally a play for radio, it paints vivid word pictures and its rhythm ebbs and flows as we experience a day in the fictional, south Wales’ town of Llareggub (read the word backwards).

A beautifully crafted set recreates the mid-20th century Llareggub, where the inhabitants dwell under Milk Wood. Ley adds visual layers of comedy and texture to their interactions, complete with topical references from the 1950s. For example, school teacher, Gossamer Beynon, fantasises about bartender, Sinbad Sailors. She doesn’t care if he’s common, “so long as he’s all cucumber and hooves”. While Gossamer gives voice to this fantasy, she’s reading “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.

The tight ensemble, nimbly negotiates the twists and turns of language and effortlessly slips from one role to the next. Graham Robertson, as blind Captain Cat, is wise, mythic and moving. Sian Harrington brings Welsh authenticity and a bright spark to the role of Polly Garter. Duncan Diver, as first voice, leads us with charm and grace from one view to another.

If you’ve never seen a Canberra Rep show, see this one; if you’ve never seen “Under Milk Wood”, see this one.


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