Karen Hart: The Woodhouse Players recent performance of Dylan Thomas' most famous play, Under Milk Wood was an atmospheric and poetic triumph.
This one-off performance, part of their contribution to the Leytonstone Festival, was performed as Thomas originally indended, as a 'play for voices' and was simply recited to the audience. This worked beautifully, each performer managing to bring to life the colourful personalities of the characters living in the small Welsh town of Llareggub and enabled the audience to envisage their hopes, dreams, fears and desires, as we follow them through a typical day with all their earth bawdiness intact.
There are simply too many wonderfully rich characters to choose from here even to begin to pick out for special mention, but Willy Nilly, the postman - recited by Paul Robinson who knows everyone's business and what's inside their mail before they do - raised many laughs, as did the vitriolic diatribes between Mr and Mrs Pugh, the perpetually nagging wife and her long suffering husband secretly harbouring thoughts of murderous intent, recited by Jackie Withnall and Phil Braithwaite.
There were many tender moments here also, with the character Polly Garter soulfully lamenting her one true love 'Willy,' now sadly departed - a lovely recital from Shauntelle Benjamin.
In conclusion, this well established group skilfully captured all the sparkling originality of Thomas' play, each player reciting their parts with relish and enthusiasm, and this is the very thing that helped make the evening such a success.
My only misgiving is that Under Milk Wood was performed just the once and too many people were denied the opportunity of visiting this most enchanting of Welsh villages and celebrating the very ordinariness of every day life in all its eccentric splendour in the very manner that Dylan Thomas himself envisaged.