There is a point at the very start of the play when Jack Thompson as First Voice in Under Milk Wood, says ‘come with me’ and I kid you not, I almost got up out of my chair and followed him. Such is the power of Jack Thompson’s voice. He is mesmerising on stage by himself for the first few minutes and as the lights slowly lift at the end of the opening monologue we begin to see shadowy figures appear and are introduced to the people of Under Milk Wood.
The pace is light and lively and a veritable roller coaster of characters and the actors move seamlessly from one to the other. The movement is smooth and helps propel the story forward in fluid motion that turned a radio play into a piece of theatre. It is well done and fun and delightful to watch.
All the performances are strong in different ways. Some had the voice, others a grace and energy to their movement and others a certain comedic timing. On the whole, the strength in the female characters performances was second to none and even though the male ensemble was good, their female counterparts stole the show. Sandy Gore makes the complex and intertwined characters look effortless and appears so comfortable on stage that ensures the audience is right there with her. The standout performance comes from Helen Thompson who, although she has a very particular vocal rhythm and tone, appears completely different in each scene with each persona.
The direction is taught, sharp, slick and well thought out, not revolutionary but well suited to the play. Kip Williams just avoided a mess of movement yet gave the piece the energy that it needed – a tightrope well balanced.
All in all a very pleasant night at the theatre, perfect if you want to settle in and watch a lovely story, well told.
Under Milk Wood features: Paula Arundell, Ky Baldwin, Alex Chorley, Drew Forsythe, Cameron Goodall, Sandy Gore, Alan John, Drew Livingston, Bruce Spence, Jack Thompson, Helen Thomson