Friday 15 July 2022

Under Milk Wood

The inhabitants of Llareggub are asleep. They dream. They wake. They continue to dream. They go about their daily business. This being Wales, they sing. They meet and part and disagree and weep and love and complain and rejoice. They sleep again. Their world continues to turn, as does ours.

Dylan Thomas created this extraordinary world across many years, but it was first performed as ‘a play for voices’ in 1953 in New York, with Thomas himself as the First Voice and the Revd Eli Jenkins. The characters are at once familiar and supernatural, hilarious and tragic, disturbing and reassuring. Thomas referred to earlier versions of the play as ‘the town that was mad’; but who is to say what is ‘normal’, what is eccentric and what is insanity?

Photography: Andrew Evans

"I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for bringing Dylan Thomas’ words and characters to life so beautifully. It’s a long time since I manned the follow spot for the Theatre Royal Jr Studio version of the play, so I reacquainted myself during the set build and painting by listening to the Richard Burton version on something of a loop. I’m not given to hyperbole, so trust me when I say that the Burton version fades to a pale shadow in comparison to what you all brought to those words. The nuanced pathos, fun and dark caustic humour that you found was remarkable. Where the Burton version provided sketches, you gave vibrant oil paintings. Your residents of Llaregub were no mere caricatures, but became real people with real lives, hopes, joy, sadness and frailties. I never really ‘got’ UMW before – some pretty words with postcard characters. Now I do. Thank you." Myles Crowder (our set builder, after watching the show on the last night)

"I really enjoyed it, but I admit I was a bit nervous.  I have been in 2 productions of the play and the second production had at least 3 runs, so I have a deep affection for the piece.  However, I had never seen a live production of the play.  Would I enjoy it?  I did! It was a very good piece of ensemble acting; brilliant use of the space and the evening was a great success.  Direction, as always, is the key, so well done and thank you for bringing Dylan Thomas’ Llareggub to life so effectively." Leah

"There have rarely been times in my life when I simply can't find superlatives strong enough to describe the experience! Such an experience was this afternoon's performance of Under Milk Wood! It stretched my emotions to the limit - I laughed, I almost cried and at the end I was so full I could not speak! This was simply the best thing I have ever seen at this superb little Norwich Theatre. The acting was superb, every nuance was drawn from the wonderful Dylan Thomas prose by the cast. The direction was a masterclass! The actors moved subtly but skilfully like pieces in a championship chess match. At the end I simply stood and applauded and just wished and wished that I had been part of it!" Robin

"...this is a show you should not miss. A brilliant presentation of a familiar classic which covers every moment of life from birth to death and all the human passions that make our short lives so full. Poignant but life-affirming, this show will send you home smiling and considering a second visit." Julian Swainson, Norwich Eye (click here for the full review)

"A truly memorable, atmospheric production of Under Milk Wood. Full of warmth, humour, pathos and a beautiful musical score - this is a magical evening of escapism. What a fantastic ensemble piece, congratulations to everyone who took part both on, and off, stage." Karen

"I will try to express how much I enjoyed your production of “Under Milkwood”, because I was very moved by the performance: Softly, gently, the little village of Llaragub came to life last night, then slipped back into a quiet sleep until the next time. Together you transformed Thomas’s verbal masterpiece, giving just the right amount of “action” to create a visual delight. The characters were beautifully, sympathetically drawn. The whole was, for me, a most enjoyable experience. A big “thank you” and congratulations to you and all your team." Sue 

"Went to see this wonderful production of Under Milk Wood last night - it was superb!!! Huge well done to all the cast & especially their talented director Cassie Tillett...  Highly recommended." Gina

"It was a triumph!!! A very difficult task to stage such a complicated "play for voices". The narrative was amazingly delivered without a hitch and the author's sense of humour was very apparent. I loved it!!! It is such a clever play and I felt the cast brought out its complexity and fun." Jackie

"Just wanted to say what a mesmerising performance you treated us to last night. I find it hard to believe that your cast are not professional actors - that makes me sound like Nadine Dorries, heaven forbid. How did  they remember the lines of so many characters and the narrator? Mesmerising for the beautiful delivery of the poetry and the ability to turn on a sixpence from such pathos to bawdy songs and all the emotions in between and it never jarred - just all the stories of ordinary people. Thank you for all the hard work that obviously went into the production and all the best for the coming performances." Jan

"Wonderful evening at the Sewell Barn's 'Under Milk Wood' last night! I've loved the play since being Myfanwy Price in Anne Giles' 1996 production - and this brought back all sorts of happy memories! Thank you for a highly enjoyable and cleverly original show. Don't miss it!" Frances

(Message to director) "I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Under Milk Wood last night.  I loved the way you staged it and your talented cast really brought life and energy to the different characters. The music / songs were also wonderful.  Well done to all involved." Trudy

"Heartily recommend Under Milk Wood at the Sewell Barn. 13 actors completely in tune with each other; including the lovely Joy Davidson as the guide in a voice over. Fine and humorous ensemble acting. Thoughtfully directed by Cassie Tillett. All in all, a wonderful evening." Becky

"I totally endorse Becky’s review [above] and wish to add how impressed I was with the tonal qualities of the costuming, the placing of the rostra and stools with the cobbles design. Congratulations too for the subtlety of the lighting changes and the amount of movement you created. Thank you for the best evening out for me in a long time." Jan

"This was excellent. Always a hard task when actors play several roles, but the characterization made it very clear who was being who. The music was very good indeed - especially the Evening Prayer. I always expect high standards from this company, and this surpassed it. (It was sad not to see Anne [Giles] flitting about in one of her many capacities, but good that she was acknowledged on the programme.)" Nick

"I much enjoyed the show last night. It was a beautifully judged, superbly paced and impressively executed production. The work clearly presents challenges in its transfer to the stage but I think these challenges were met with aplomb. I'd certainly agree with the reviewer who highlighted the fine ensemble playing; in the circumstances, it would perhaps be inappropriate to single out individual performances. Congratulations to all concerned and good luck with the remainder of the run." Peter

"The Sewell Barn never ceases to amaze with its incredible variety of shows in every season, and Under Milk Wood is no exception. Twelve talented performers create a intriguing and sometimes moving community of humanity. Ultimately, a thing of beauty. Not to be missed." Barnaby

"Under Milk Wood. Fantastic. Acting, directing both awesome. [We] were blown away by how well it was brought to life! Go see it!" James

"The production’s success comes from the strength of the ensemble, who bring this at once romantic and tawdry Welsh village to life through the power of their presence." James Goffin, Cultivated (click here for full review)

"Loved it. Great cast, great direction, great musical moments. Fabulous." Ros

"I've seen six productions of Under Milk Wood since the 1960s, and this was the best." Audience comment to cast member

"We loved it. Well done to all ." Jane