Theatre in Wales

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A fitting tribute to genius of Dylan

At Theatr Clwyd

Clwyd Theatr Cymru- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog , Theatr Clwyd , February 17, 2003
THE 50th anniversary of the death of Dylan Thomas is being marked by Clwyd Theatr Cymru with a lively and moving production based on his short stories, looking back to a Welsh childhood and adolescence.

These snapshots evoke a way of life now gone, brilliantly lit up by the memory of a genius.

Thomas's Under Milk Wood is the best known of his writings, but in these dramatised short stories, we see the development of his talent as he casts an unerringly accurate eye on daily life as he grows up.

The production has been created by Tim Baker with a young audience in mind, and directed by Hywel Evans, making his debut at Clwyd Theatr Cymru.

But it is not a work for children alone: adult audiences are entranced by its freshness and humour.

The part of Thomas is played by Russell Gomer, who conjures up a young man in a hurry, with a premonition of his early death urging him onwards to find a literary immortality.

"I fell in love with words at an early age," he tells the audience, "and am still at the mercy of them. I influence them, even beat them, which they appear to enjoy; they are miraculous, like eggs laid by tigers."

Thomas is wandering through a snowy town, searching out those who remember him as a boy, and reliving fragments of his youth while he talks about his writing.

A day's outing to Porthcawl with his buffalo-like uncle and his drinking partners is recreated by Thomas and the cast of four.

Another uncle, who stole pigs from the sty to sell for drink, is a more fearful character.

Friends are funny, like Les, whose gift is to give appropriate names to passing strangers, as the two lads build up stories around them.

Or friends full of pathos, like Ray, whose personal tragedies follow the pair on a walk to the Worm's Head to paddle in the surf.

Simply staged, with an evocative guitar accompaniment by Iain Jackson, this excellent production is a fitting tribute to one of the 20th Century's great Welsh poets, and a worthy twin to the company's earlier, superb production of Under Milk Wood. The play runs in Mold until February 22.

Reviewed by: Western Mail

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