Originally as a radio play, Under Milk Wood was written by the poet Dylan Thomas, telling the story of a day in the life of a small village somewhere in the Wales. Charmingly written, the play cleverly details the lives of the various inhabitants of this village.
It is the joyful and playful engagement of the actors with the many characters they portray that is the best thing about this production, which is directed by Dianna Nixon, and produced by her company Wild Voices in association with the Street Theatre. The exposed space worked for the production as did the simple but effective presentation of the actors under their various spot lights.
The main cast included Nick Byrne, Tobias Cole, Kate Hosking, Dene Kermond, Zsuszi Soboslay, P.J. Williams who all embraced their many roles with much joy, sympathy, vocal skill and poetry. I enjoyed their various characterisations of the people in this iconic radio play; special mention going to Dene Kermond and Nick Byrne for the way they
struck a delicate balance between the poetry and the character's idiosyncrasies. Tobias Cole was so clear and compelling as one of the story-tellers I would have liked to hear his voice even more.
However, as an exercise in listening, it wasn't very successful. I closed my eyes on a number of occasions to embrace the intention of the piece. Strangely, I found it hard to hear the narration at various times which left me wondering what was going on in the story. The accompanying sounds were very literal in nature, and the opportunity to create a fuller and continuous soundscape of this village and environs was lost to this literal and sparse interpretation.
The idea of having some of the audience on stage being immersed in the sounds, language and story was a great idea in principle but not fully realised. As a result, the audience positioned on stage with a rug and cushions became a distraction, a kind of weird lazy loitering behind the actors on their stools who were directing everything to the audience seated in the auditorium.
As an exercise in community involvement in theatre, the inclusion of school children both younger and older in the production was a charming idea. I enjoyed having the presence of the children in the space and I could see they were enjoying being involved.
Wild Voices Music Theatre’s production of Under Milk Wood shows the promise of things to come and a show case for its central performers.