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Under Milk Wood

Under Milk Wood

Sound And Vision In Thomas’ Final Play

It is commonly reported that Dylan Thomas wrote his final play UNDER MILK WOOD as a response to the Hiroshima bombings “to reassert the evidence of beauty in the world”. Over fifty years after it was first read in New York in 1953 –six months before Thomas’ untimely death - the lyrical power and gentle humour of this magical play continues to enchant and delight audiences.

Set in the fictional seaside Welsh village of Llareggub (itself a subtle poke at Thomas’ Welsh origins: the town name is “bugger-all” spelled backwards), UNDER MILK WOOD opens by asking the audience to listen and discover the dreams of the slumbering townsfolk. As dawn breaks on a spring day, we are asked to look as the villagers wake and go about their lives, before returning once more to slumber at the close of the play.

“The play has a magical, surreal quality,” says Geraldine Brophy, who returns to The Court Theatre to direct UNDER MILK WOOD following 2006’s Doubt. “Thomas’ script creates a world where, through the rich rhetoric of language, images are earthy and ripe, tender, infused at once with humour and a knowingness that explodes our imaginative resources. We have tried to embody this in our production.”

To this end, renowned New Zealand artist John Reynolds makes his stage design debut to conceive an environment that combines netting, stepladders and various other domestic items into an almost ethereal place, encapsulating the world of a small tightly-knit community on the cusp of spring. Local musician Hamish Oliver creates original music that expands upon the magic weaved by Thomas’ poetically lyrical text, complemented with lighting design by Associate of The Court (a title recognising years of outstanding service to the theatre) Joe Hayes.

Grounding the more otherworldly elements are the characters and content of UNDER MILK WOOD, which Brophy describes as “universal, recognisable and sexy. Greed, lust, envy, spite, love and desire fill the hearts, minds and dreams of the village inhabitants.”

Playing the multitude of characters – from children, town gossips and aged sea captains to more mystical ghosts and mysterious “voices” guiding the audience through Llarregub - is what Brophy describes as a “dream cast” featuring Paul Barrett (an Associate of The Court in a welcome return after several years based in the North Island) and fellow Associate Yvonne Martin, with Elsie Edgerton-Till, David McPhail, Eilish Moran and Tom Trevella. Each actor has been “more than up to the task of imbuing each character with humour, honesty and integrity” says Brophy. “A fluid, magical style with well-grounded, universally recognisable themes ensures UNDER MILK WOOD remains an enchanting experience”.

UNDER MILK WOOD casts its spell in Court One from 23 February – 22 March.

UNDER MILK WOOD by Dylan Thomas
Directed by: Geraldine Brophy Set concept by: John Reynolds
Original Music by: Hamish Oliver
Venue: The Court Theatre, Christchurch
Cast: Paul Barrett, Elsie Edgerton-Till, Yvonne Martin, David McPhail, Eilish Moran and Tom Trevella
Production Dates: 23 February – 22 March 2008
Performance times: 6pm Monday / Thursday; 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays).
2pm matinee Saturday
Tickets: Adults $37, Senior Citizens $32, Tertiary Students $23, School Children $15, Group discount $31
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or


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