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Review: Under Milk Wood at East Riding Theatre

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I received an invitation to go along and see East Riding Theatre’s latest production “Under Milk Wood” by  Dylan Thomas.  So, off I popped with my school friend (we both left school some time ago) to see what this was about.  We hadn’t studied “Under Milk Wood” so came at this completely fresh.

East Riding Theatre put on some fantastic productions over the year and we sat in our seats with great anticipation and had a quick look over the stage.  There are no curtains at ERT, just an open stage which was set with an odd assortment of household items on the back wall, a rocking chair on a high ledge and some delightful lit up cottages on either side of the stage.  It looked magical and top marks to set designer Emily Clay for such an imaginative setting.

The cast is just five players, and they have to be sharp as they constantly change characters in a carefully choreographed ‘dance’ throughout.  As such, this brilliantly talented cast kept us amused and entertained.

The play centres around 24 hours in the life of a small Welsh coastal village called “Llareggub”  (a quick internet search revealed that this is ‘bugger all’ backwards. – probably because most of the villagers have got bugger all)   The play timeline commences in the evening when most of the villagers are asleep and the narrator introduces us to characters and tells us that we are witnessing their dreams.  I’m not going to introduce all of the characters but imagine listening to dreams of long-lost shipmates, a plot to poison the wife, orders barked at two ex-husbands, and saucy goings on in Milk Wood.  

The stories of the characters intertwine and enthral us in the audience, especially the elderly Welsh gentleman at the end of our row who was chuckling, muttering ‘ah yes’ to himself and applauding the cast.  The same gentleman seeing we were ‘newbies’ at the story recommended that when we get time to listen to the version read by the late great Richard Burton.  I most certainly will as I was hooked from what I saw.

After the interval we settled down to further the stories of the villagers (or as much as Dylan could fit into 24 hours) as they go about their day.  The constant changes in character for each actor were not at all confusing, which they could have been without such a great cast.

I really enjoyed this production.  It kept moving and kept my interest and a quick look at the programme showed some of the cast were ERT returnees.  It’s a massive well done and thank you to the cast of Richard Avery, Hannah Levy, Finlay McGuigan, Gordon Meredith and Alice Palmer.  It is well worth popping down to the theatre which is situated across the road at the back of Boyes Store. It is always a warm welcome and you are guaranteed a great production to entertain you.

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