THE annual Bristol Old Vic Theatre School summer tour is always eagerly awaited, both by the second year students (for whom this is the first public production) and by audiences across the south and west.
Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood is a staple for the students, the many characters providing opportunities to explore and demonstrate a range of talents and versatility. Christopher Scott’s 2017 production, which began its tour at the David Hall in South Petherton, sets the 1954 “radio play for voices” in the Sailor’s Arms, Thomas’s famous watering hole in Laugharne, three years after the poet’s death in New York.
The regulars are gathered to listen to Thomas’s own reading of Under Milk Wood on the crackling radio. A couple of tourists arrive, ready to drink up the atmosphere and avidly read the play to one another.
Then the radio signal breaks up …
Musical director Pamela Rudge has made the most of the remarkable voices of this group of young actors, giving an added dimension to the poetic play.
The 14 performers, all of them at the end of their second year at the famous school, are hoping to emulate the career successes of their illustrious predecessors, and from a first glimpse, the programme description of “stars of the future” is no exaggeration.
Every face and every voice stays vividly in the memory in this story of a Welsh village from daybreak to night, its characters immortalised in Thomas’s lilting narrative.
This innovative production is a triumph, and should pack halls around the region on its tour. You won’t forget James Schofield’s grin, Liyah Summer’s plaintive song, James Bradwell’s morning and night prayers, Jyuddah Jaymes Muzahura’s lovelorn Sinbad, Charlie Suff’s neurotic Lord Cutglass, Max Dinnen’s drunken Waldo, Emma Prendergast’s dancing octogenarian …
Don’t miss the chance to see this remarkable production. It is the ideal introduction to Thomas’s play for newcomers, and a fascinating idea for those who know and love the work.
The tour comes to Wedmore Village Hall on Friday 9th, Wells Little Theatre on Tuesday 13th, Minehead Regal on Wednesday 14th, Honiton Beehive on Thursday 15th, the Wharf Theatre in Devizes on Tuesday 20th, Taunton’s Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre on Wednesday 21st, two Artsreach Dorset dates at Frampton Village Hall on Saturday 24th and the Exchange at Sturminster Newton the following night, and to Wimborne’s Tivoli Theatre on Wednesday 28th June.
Production photographs by Hide the Shark