Review of Under Milk Wood

Directed by Terry Hands
At the Hafren, Newtown
  THE cast of ‘Under Milk Wood’ bid farewell to Wales as they performed in The Hafren - the last Welsh theatre of the tour.
The Hafren saw more than 400 people gather to watch the magnificent Dylan Thomas ‘play for voices’, Under Milk Wood, directed by Terry Hands, who is best known for his successes at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The final Welsh theatre performance took place on Thursday, April 17.
The performance started a little later than advertised, although this was in no way off putting, it rather added to the anticipation, suspense and excitement within everybody in the auditorium.
The cast appeared on stage without any over-the-top theatrical gimmicks, outrageous costumes or smoke and from that moment on, they took us on a mesmerising appreciation of Dylan Thomas’ work.
Owen Teale, played the part of the first voice, inviting us to listen into the dreams of the people living in Llareggub, which backwards spells ‘bugger all’, a small Welsh fishing village.  His delivery was extremely engaging, not only within his crystal clear voice but also with the way he lured us in, with brilliant attention to subtle movement and use of pause.
“Now behind the eyes and secrets of the dreamers in the streets rocked to sleep by the sea, see the titbits and topsyturvies, bobs and buttontops, bags and bones, ash and rind.”
Owen articulated every word exceptionally well without any use of amplification, just him and his voice.
The play continued to amaze us, as characters awoke from their dreams and went about their daily business, the actors, apart from Owen, were tasked with playing a multitude of roles, flipping between characters with great ease, using an array of versatile voices and physical embodiments, which were fascinating to watch.
Although the play has no storyline, the 11 strong cast’s use of acapella singing, fearless acting, outstanding set and the pure magic written into the text, still managed to keep me and the rest of the audience gripped to our seats.
After the performance I caught up with actor Steven Meo, who played many different characters in the show but my favourite being ‘No Good Boyo’.
Steven said: “I felt a bit melancholy as I waved goodbye to Wales at the curtain call.
“It’s the biggest and best audience I’ve seen here and it’s great to be going out on such a big bang.”
This was an outstanding piece of theatre which I feel privileged to have watched, if you did miss it, fear not as the tour continues into England.
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