UNDER MILK WOOD
Dylan Thomas’ UNDER MILK WOOD, originally written in 1953 as a radio ‘Play for Voices’, paints a day-in-the-life portrait of a fictional small seaside town called Llareggub, located on the Welsh coast against a backdrop of green hills, woods and farmland. Llareggub was inspired by Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived on and off from 1938 onwards. This new production, created for Northern Stage, reimagined Llareggub as a small seaside town on the North East coast, resting against an expanse of rolling hills, farms and forests, and reverberating with the rhythm of the North Sea.
In staging UNDER MILK WOOD I wanted to focus on the act of listening, allowing Thomas’ richly evocative words the space to breathe and fire the imagination. Guided by two narrators - played by Christina Berriman Dawson and David Kirkbride - the audience was invited to discover the day and night of a place, and the light and shade of the people within it. A collage of sounds and images allowed the audience to glimpse below the surface of a bucolic idyll, revealing the private thoughts, secret desires and frustrated ambitions of an isolated community of people at the edge of an island, and the darkness, humour and beauty of human nature.
The more than 60 characters in the play were all voiced by Christina and David, whose live narration was interwoven with both live and recorded character voices, in an immersive soundscape created by Composer and Sound Designer, Richard Hammarton.
For more information, please visit Northern Stage's website here.
Writer: Dylan Thomas
Composition & Sound Design: Richard Hammarton
Set & Costume Design: Jen McGinley
Lighting Design: Andy Purves
Film: Kris Deedigan
Christina Berriman Dawson, David Kirkbride
**** Staging such a work is no easy job… but Elayce Ismail is more than equal to the task. Her new production is an intimate, in-the-round studio piece that immerses the audience in the ebb and flow of Dylan’s vivid prose through a mix of live action and recorded sound and film… the onstage action and pre-recorded material knit together to create a satisfying theatrical experience.
**** In Under Milk Wood, Ismail finds a little-Britain cross-section of seafarers, churchmen and lusty adolescents who could be resident in many a coastal community. And in the local accent, especially as articulated by the sonorous Christina Berriman Dawson and David Kirkbride, she has a fair match for the language of Thomas’ South Wales… they make light work of a dense script, keeping the characters down to earth and letting the language soar.
**** Lyrical - and surprisingly Geordie… by transporting the town to our coast, Ismail highlights the universality of Under Milk Wood.
Newcastle Journal (Chronicle Live)
A very 21st century approach to a very mid-20th century play… the modern techniques not only work but work very well, because they don’t detract from the poetry, but enhance it… good ideas, beautifully paced.
British Theatre Guide
A thriving live experience… a vibrant production.
North East Theatre Guide
This vivid, intimate experience is superbly delivered by the only two actors on the stage… Under Milk Wood is an audio and visual delight.
Nights Out In Newcastle
Production photos by Pamela Raith: