UNDER MILK WOOD
at the Civic Theatre
Guy Masterson has been carrying Llareggub around with him for something approaching twenty years. All the people of Dylan Thomas's sleepy seaside town, living inside his head, ready to spring to life in this remarkable theatrical experience. Now his one-man show must take a rest, and Friday's performance, to a near-capacity Civic, will be the last for some years.
It is a play for voices, and we discover the Welsh town first through the keen ears of sightless Captain Cat, standing in pyjamas and dark glasses on a kitchen chair isolated on a bible-black stage, as the men and women dream their revealing dreams. And the animals, too: moles, cats, carthorses and the rest. All vividly but economically suggested in a masterclass of narrative mime. Masterson's instruments are his mellifluous voice, aided by echo occasionally, and his eloquent hands. With them he conjures the characters and the moulted feathers of their dreams. The music and the soundscape [Matt Clifford] are helpful, but incidental.
The delights are legion – many of us, like the couple behind me, wait in pleasurable anticipation for our favourite lines, first learned in versions by Burton or by the poet himself. Like the awful Pughs, or Cherry Owen's cheerfully drunken homecoming, or the children's games, blithely skipping, shyly kissing on Llareggub Hill.