Wednesday 27 July 2011

Starless and bible-black

David Newham and Susan Seddon perform
Under Milk Wood at the Maddermarket Theatre
On Tuesday evening I attended the Norwich Players production of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich. To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea.

Under Milk Wood was published posthumously in 1954, a play for voices that was written for the radio. For the stage this performance directed by Stephen Picton takes place in a derelict mental asylum somewhere in Wales. If you want to experience the piece as intended just shut your eyes.

David Newham is wonderful in the role of narrator made famous by Richard Burton. Also performing were Susan Seddon, Dean Bramwell, Peter Bryan, Etta Geras, John Levantis, Oonagh Segrave-Daly and Samantha Wright. Complete with welsh accents they put on a brilliant mad performance. The power of Dylan Thomas' poetry together with the mental asylum may have seemed a little unsettling at time but overall it made for an interesting experience.

Stark lightbulbs and madmen, all of life was on show at the Maddermarket Theatre. And before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes. After experiencing the play on stage I'm looking forward to hearing it as it was intended on the BBC audio version starring Richard Burton.

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