Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

An exquisite atmosphere of love, longing and loss

Under Milk Wood

Shed Theatre , C Venues, Edinburgh Fringe Festival , August-24-08
Under Milk Wood by Shed Theatre The Edinburgh Fringe wouldn't be the Fringe without at least one Under Milk Wood. I wasn't meaning to go to this year's only candidate but Shed Theatre's sweetly sexy poster caught my eye.

I'm glad it did because it really was charming and very well performed. Shed Theatre proved to be a youth theatre from Charlbury in Oxfordshire and thankfully, apart from the proper names in the text which were negotiated quite respectably, they did not attempt Welsh accents at all. This did make it sometimes feel a little odd, having a small Welsh community transported to rural Oxfordshire, but it meant that the cast could concentrate on the words and the rhythms.

The whole production felt very musical. Not only had the company composed songs for the show, adding a haunting feel without being especially memorable, they treated the words as though they were part of a choral composition. They did this without losing the sense or meaning of the lines, in fact the humour and sadness came through very strongly.

The cast of 33 opened the piece in beautiful style, in semi-darkness and dividing the narration between them making it a true play for voices. For most of the rest they formed a line on each side of the stage leading down to groups of readers dividing the narration between them. For individual characters the required actor would move to the centre, slipping easily on and off the stage when a character costume was needed.

The seamless flow of this allowed the fictional day to move through its phases effortlessly. The pace never slackened but neither was it ever rushed. As well as the songs, they had worked out elegant dance movements involving the whole company. This reached a peak with Rosie Probert's farewell to Captain Cat, the point where words, music and movement created an exquisite atmosphere of love, longing and loss. Never mind Captain Cat having tears in his eyes, I had tears in mine.

Maybe some of the poetry was beyond the reach of some of the young company but the skills, enthusiasm and superb discipline they brought to Dylan Thomas made this one of the most enchanting Under Milk Woods I've ever seen and fully deserving of its place in Edinburgh.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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