Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. Assembly Gardens.
Full disclosure – I now consider Guy Masterson a friend and indeed I adapted the book and directed him in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (Yes, it IS touring this Christmas, thank you for asking! Schedule to follow soon!) But I first met Guy when he performed this piece at R.A.D.A. in London as part of the Dylan Thomas Centenary festival. Arranged by another Welsh-rooted performer and producer, Griff Rhys Jones, I was involved due to the London Literary Pub Crawl, so although this version is not new to me, it was once!
Dylan Thomas’ play for voices is about a day in the life of the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub (spell or say it backwards!) and its fractious, fantastic, fatalistic, funny and sometimes freaky inhabitants. Many think it’s based on New Quay, others Larne, both places Dylan lived in Wales, but the characters are universal. They moan and mourn and love and lust, and occasionally and hilariouly plan murder – and Guy Masterson performs them all perfectly. Using clever sound, shadows and physicality, we’re transported back to the crazy, lovely town. It’s a big ask to present UMW as a one-person show, but Masterson is the master of the genre. Occasionally Thomas’ text and language is so rich and heavy it can fall out of the ear and concentration is required, but as with all great performances, it is obvious that Guy Masterson really knows, and really likes these characters – and we feel his warmth for them. This was the ‘semi-skimed’ version – cut down in duration for the Edinburgh Fringe, but even when a young man squealed with delight and ran on to the stage to hug the performer, not once, but twice, Masterson simply smiled, returned the hug, pointed him back to his seat and took us straight back to Llareggub, without missing a beat.
There’s a reason Guy Materson has been performing Under Milk Wood for so long. He does it briliantly. Well done to Assembly Festival for bringing it back this strange festival year. Go and experience the original Coronation Street. See the Master Masterson and, as Dylan Thomas puts it, begin at the beginning…
Rating – Francis Bacon – woo-hoo Soho!
🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 out of 5.