It’s a veritable Dylan Thomas feast at the moment, with John Maybury’s Edge of Love showing at cinemas, Caitlin Thomas’s 1997 memoir My Life with Dylan Thomas reissued by Virago, and HarperCollins releasing CD editions of the recordings made by Thomas for Caedmon in the 1950s, including this one of Under Milk Wood, starring Thomas as narrator.
The CD cover provides frustratingly little information and I’d love to know, for example, who the other members of the cast were. However, a little research tells me this is the famous 1953 recording of the first ever full stage performance of Under Milk Wood – you can hear the audience coughing and laughing in the background, which adds a sense of immediacy, and nothing can detract from the pleasure of hearing Dylan’s distinctive, sonorous voice reading his best-known and most enduring work: ‘To begin at the beginning . . .’
Under Milk Wood is the quintessential ‘play for voices’, a lyrical and warmly humorous account of a spring day in the life of the inhabitants of the fictional Llareggub, a small Welsh seaside town. Every character, without exception, is memorable: dear blind Captain Cat and his undying love for the long-dead Rosie Probert; Dai Bread with his two wives, Dai Bread One and Dai Bread Two; the delightful Polly Garter, whose garden grows nothing but babies, and all with different fathers; Willy Nilly the Postman, who knows the contents of everyone’s letters before he delivers them; and many, many more, including the Reverend Eli Jenkins, whose morning prayer of praise and gratitude for the beauties of Llareggub and all its people somehow distils the passionate love of life that pervades this extraordinary, timeless piece of writing – a piece to be listened to again and again, whose wit never dates and whose power will surely never fade.
Suzy Ceulan Hughes
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.