DYLAN Thomas’s 1954 radio play Under Milk Wood, and its many subsequent stage productions, lulls its audiences into the bucolic rhythms of an imaginary Welsh fishing village, weaving its way round quickly-familiar streets as it introduces the colourful characters.
Set over the course of one ordinary day, it peeps into the life of the blind Captain Cat, mourning the death of the boys who served with him, but mostly of Rosie Probert, his one love – of Organ Morgan and his obsession with his instrument – of Dai Bread and his two wives – of Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard and her two late husbands – of Nogood Boyo, and of Polly Garter, extending favours to anyone who asked while thinking only of her dead lover, Willie.
The play is almost a blank sheet for a director and designer, calling either for a large cast or a very versatile company, and at Mere this week it’s the latter, 15 of them (plus two readers) playing 63 characters on a clever set that opens the doors to houses, allows characters to speak from windows and covers the streets of Llareggub.
We might know that it’s really buggerall backwards, but it sounds thoroughly Welsh and there’s no denying the deeply nationalistic writing.
Directors Chris Wood and Jane Smith have coaxed some memorable performances from the cast, many of whom managed convincing accents throughout.
Particularly impressive were Angela Kincaid’s Bessie Bighead and Mrs Cherry Owen, Mary White as the widely varied Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard and Mrs Dai Bread Two, June Hewett’s Mary Ann Sailors, Maggie Durkee’s Miss Myfanwy Price, Matthew Glide in five roles especially Nogood Boyo, Juliet Booth as Rosie Probert, Allan Glide as Cherry Owen and Mog Edwards, June Lampard’s conspiratorial Mrs Dai Bread One and Sharron Glide’s beautifully-sung Polly Garter. On Friday night Chris Wood also played the bloodthirsty butcher and the would-be poisoner with gusto, standing in for Frank Marshall.
The final performance is at 7.30 on Saturday 22nd March.
Eric Kincaid, the first reader in the production, also created the beautiful poster for the show.