Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

Under Milk Wood
by  Dylan Thomas   directed by Nick Warburton

The ADC Theatre, Cambridge, July 2010

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A Review of Under Milk Wood
by Margaret Clark

This is a play for voices based on a poem included in a radio broadcast by Dylan Thomas, 'Quite Early One Morning'.  It allows the audience to watch with humour and sympathy a Welsh town that-never-was from midnight to midnight. Nick Warburton, director of this Bawds production, is a generous and warm hearted person who on seeing the hopefuls arraigned before him enfolded them to himself and increased the cast number from twelve to twenty.

Retaining the original concept of everyone on stage all the time, the choreography therefore had to be tight and those not involved in the action neatly tucked away.

In this the director set himself a Snowdon of a challenge. To a certain extent things worked well but there was the occasional masking, for instance, on receiving a paternity summons Waldo's shocked face was at once obscured by the postman returning to his  chair. The stage was cluttered with people and from Row B I had
to peer through the actors down front to see what was going on at the back .  Perhaps the set design could have been reconsidered and a rock or two or partial cliff placed behind the quay to allow another level or so to house the spare actor.


Nevertheless......to begin at the beginning.......on entering the theatre one was immediately transported to a Welsh fishing village. The residents were already on stage moving around the harbour conversing with each other, while the auditorium became the cliff-perched town. And then came the strong voices of a Welsh male voice choir 'Bread of Heaven', mainly Anglo-Welsh accents from the actors; the audience
seated on Llareggub Hill suddenly found itself in 'The Land of their Fathers'.  I half expected to be offered a Welsh cake during the interval.

        
 The costumes were absolutely right. Extra costumes were neatly hidden but
readily available for an unobtrusive change; coat pegs behind a tree, imagine! The actors obviously enjoyed themselves, their enthusiasm was infectious and we loved every character.  Practically everyone played more than one role while the First Voice was divided between a few actors. Characters were assumed in an instant,
a snapshot of a Llareggub inhabitant. The set pieces were well rehearsed and beautifully honed, every word counted, some good timing, reactions superb. All on stage when not involved showed an interest in what was going on.


The first laugh came when Mog Edwards convulsed with love for Miss Price, and  it continued  with the Dai Breads, Ogmore-Pritchards,  Beynons, Pughs,  Cherry Owens, Willy Nilly, Lily Smalls, and the Organ Morgans.   Then there was the happy innocence of old age from Mary Ann Sailors; loud boisterousness from the children; 
an erudite pomposity of a Guide Book;  pathos from Captain Cat and Polly Garter, her song a highlight; and  subdued evocative music.  If I have missed you, apologies. 


Other than the director I am not recording names, for everyone on stage and behind the scenes gave of their very best to present an enthralling and entertaining production.  The audience adored it. I would have preferred the acting area less crowded, and, of course, to have been offered a Welsh cake.