Under Milk Wood: sensuality and wonder

publicity photo for Under Milk Wood

David Hollinshead as the scheming Mr. Pugh (Photo by Nancy Caldwell)

I don’t know if language gets more glorious than this. The poetry in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, a radio play from 1954 that was adapted for the stage, is unabashedly beautiful.

In it, two narrators introduce us to the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub (“buggerall” spelled backwards). I don’t know how you’ll react but, as soon as I heard their description of the night and its “slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea,” I was in. Like in.

Referring to the townspeople, the voices tell us, “From where you are, you can hear their dreams.”

“Young girls lie bedded soft,” they continue, “with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glowworms down the aisles of the organplaying woods.”

This text might look overwrought as you’re reading it but, hearing it, it feels concretely ecstatic: even without speaking it yourself, you know how good it would feel in your mouth.

[Read more…]

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!