Under Milk Wood has a history spreading back nearly 65 years. Dylan Thomas’s observations of the sleeping town of New Quay written as “Quite early one morning” and later recorded for radio formed the nucleus of what would become “Under Milk Wood” in 1954. Unfortunately, the Welsh poet’s greatest known work would turn out to be his last, and before revising his manuscript, rumoured to be a response to the horrific atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Thomas died. The play was recorded for BBC Radio in 1954, but it was much later that it was adapted for stage and film.
Its latest metamorphosis is as a ballet performed by the talented young dancers of Independent Ballet Wales. Gwyn Vaughan Jones seamlessly stepped into the role of First Voice providing the linking narration to the thoughts and dreams of the occupants of the imaginary Welsh village Llareggub. Everyone is sleeping in the seemingly quiet town, but their innermost thoughts are bordering on an explosion of their own.
The occupants of the fictional village were all portrayed by the dancers, led capably by Emily Pimm, Lauren Poulton and Oliver Eastwood. In all cases, each dancer adopted several roles and to great effect. From the dream sequences of Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard and her late lamented husbands to the murderous plotting of Pugh, the schoolmaster. The production was beautifully choreographed and interspersed with drama, diluted with comedic miming, reminiscent of the finest silent movie appearances of Keaton and Chaplin.
The production was complimented with a new score played live by composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. While all the acts were set to a stunning backdrop of paintings by artist Jeremy Thomas. It was good to see the audience enjoying this production. I felt it encapsulated Thomas creations beautifully, caricatured as they are, but also giving making them believable.
ARCHIVED: May 2020