BWW Review: UNDER MILK WOOD at West End Productions
West End Production's Under Milk Wood is now playing at North 4th Theatre in Albuquerque. Under Milk Wood is a play based on a radio drama by playwright and poet Dylan Thomas. Commissioned by the BBC in 1950, it was completed shortly before his death in New York City in 1953. A film version, directed by Andrew Sinclair, was released in 1972, and another adaptation of the play, directed by Pip Broughton, was staged for television on the 60th anniversary of the radio play in 2014. The play is thought of as an expression of love for the cast of characters of the fictional costal fishing town of Llareggub in Wales - the name of the town is said to reveal its meaning only when read backwards.
At the start of Under Milk Wood, a narrator invites the audience to listen to the dreams and thoughts of Llareggub's residentswhile they sleep. The large cast of characters include: Myfanwy Price, the sweetshop owner, who dreams of marrying Mr. Mog Edwards; Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, the owner of a guesthouse who dreams of her two dead husbands and nags them; Mrs. Organ Morgan, a shop owner who dreams of "silence," as her husband, Organ Morgan, is constantly playing the organ; Mr. Dai Bread, who is a polygamist and dreams of harems; Lord Cut-Glass, a man who keeps 66 clocks in his home that are all set to a different time. Finally, there is Captain Cat, an old and blind sea captain who dreams of his deceased shipmates and lost love, Rosie Probert. He also serves as an additional narrator during the production, as he comments on the lives of the people he observes from his window. In addition to the audience getting a glimpse of the townspeople's thoughts and dreams, the play also allows the audience to watch the characters conduct their daily business all the while aware of what each person is feeling and thinking.
In West End Production's Under Milk Wood, with a cast of eight actors (Merritt C. Glover, Tim MacAlpine, Colleen Neary McClure, Yannig Morin, Jessica Osbourne, Philip J. Shortell, Carolyn Ward, and Dan Ware), portrayed the 70 characters in the play to absolute perfection. While the costumes would stay the same, each actor would change their body language and accent, tone and pitch to their voice in order to distinguish one character from the next. Employing these tactics made it easy to follow when a different character was being discussed onstage and kept the audience's attention. It was incredible to see the transformations occurring. The level of talent onstage was truly impressive.
Director Joe Feldman's take on the play, and the way he kept the flow of movement from one snapshot of a character's life to the next and each of the actors moving from one part of the stage to another, also helped to keep the audience interested throughout the hour and a half production. The set design by Thane Kenny, Joe Stephenson, and Nina Dorrance helped to bring the sleepy town of Llareggub to life, from the various townspeople's homes to the local bar and shops everyone frequented. The costuming by Rhonda Backinoff also helped to flesh out the characters by creating believable costumes for people who would live in a small fishing village at the time.
Under Milk Wood runs from October 18th, 2019 - November 10th, 2019 at North 4th Theatre. Shows are at 7:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays, with a 2:00 pm matinee on Sundays. Tickets cost $20- $25 and are available by calling (505) 404-8462, or at West End Production's website at: http://westendproductions.org/. This one-of-a-kind show filled with impeccable talent should not be missed!
Image credit: Russell Maynor