BWW REVIEW: Dylan Thomas' Intriguing Fictional Town Of Llareggub Comes To Life With Genesian Theatre Company's UNDER MILK WOOD
Dylan Thomas' beautifully poetic and imaginative radio play come stage production UNDER MILK WOOD delights as an escape from the weight of the outside world. Indulging in humanities desire for gossip and peering into other peoples lives, this account of a day in the life of the inhabitants of the fictional Welsh seaside village unearths secrets and mysteries with fun and frivolity.
Martin Searles has created a versatile set on which Ylaria Rogers (Director) has the quaint little towns stories unfold. A boardwalk and jetty boarders the space rising up from the water where a row boat waits allowing for a degree of vertical variety to the staging. Cotton drops boarder the space, patterned with a subtle ripple of water reinforcing the seaside location whilst illuminated glass floats in rope netting dangle from the trees. Rogers also utilises the auditorium space for the performance, further drawing the audience in to the story and immersing them in it rather than just observing. Costume designers Pheonuh Callan and Susan Carveth have kept the costumes relatively simple with base designs that are added to with overskirts, scarves and aprons enabling quick changes for the performers that are undertaking a number of the townsfolk throughout the 80 minute performance. Liam O'Keefe's lighting helps the quick changes and he adds variety through the use of hurricane lamps, the suspended glass floats and various washes of light that signal different parts of the day.
The ensemble of 9 performers, Turea Blyth, Brooke Burns, Sandra Campbell, Caspar Hardaker, Courtney Hough, Tiffany Hoy, Marty O'Neill, Martin Searles and Tim Quaife, cover the range of characters that inhabit the town along with providing the musical interludes with guitar, saxophone and accordion music as well as vocals. The performances are solid and convey the ranging emotions from love, grief, resentment, joy and longing. Whilst presented in English, a ranging depth of welsh accents is retained throughout adding to the poetry of the work which has a beautiful cadence and colour. They keep the show moving at a smooth pace as they weave through the multitude of stories, some of which are revealed over the course of the show, others are captured in a single scene.
Genesian Theatre Company's UNDER MILK WOOD is an enjoyable evening of light entertainment, like an old world soap opera looking into a typical day in the life of a little town.
Genesian Theatre, Sydney