Dylan Thomas brings a dark humor to Atwater Village Theatre with “Under Milk Wood”

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Under Milk Wood came to life in 1954 written by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The story was compelling and by 1972 it had made its way to a feature film directed by Andrew Sinclair. Eventually it worked its way to the stage and right now compliments of the Open Fist Theatre Company it is being presented on stage at the Atwater Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

1. Stephanie Crothers

The story weaves its way through lives of several of the good, and sometimes not so good people of the tiny seaside village of Llareggub presumptively somewhere of the coast of Wales. In what appears to be a continuous and at times intertwined series of dream state revelations some the darkest secrets of the good citizens are placed on display.

This is a play with an abundance of cast and characters. In the particular version now playing there are 20 cast members portraying an even larger number of characters. We meet the blind sea captain, Captain Cat and Jack Black and Willy Nilly and Organ Morgan and Sinbad Sailors and the Reverend Eli Jenkins and so many more.

The show is fast paced with never a dull moment but at times on the brink of over powering. The dialogue is witty and offers an abundance of often dark humor. One revelation that exquisitely sets the overall tone is the name of the town itself — Llareggub — which if you spell it backwards is revealed as “bugger all.” Think about it. Sex, drinking, death and love are all there to witness and presented in a way that long ago set Dylan Thomas apart from others.

Prior to the beginning of the show I overheard two other audience members comment about their personal experience with the show.  One man commented that he was in the play while in high school and another audience member, a woman, recalled her time being in the play while in college.

Paul Myrvold

On the other hand I must confess to total ignorance, having never even heard of Under Milk Wood until seeing it on stage at Atwater Village. It is a very entertaining and unique theatrical production presented by a clearly accomplished cast. But my one critical thought was that there should have been a short intermission because by the time it ran its full 90 minutes I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed. Had there been a short break say at the one hour mark I am sure it would have been far more fun during the final 30 minutes. Nevertheless, a very well done and unique show.

You may enjoy Under Milk Wood now through August 25th 2018 at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90039.  Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00 p.m. Reservations and ticketing are available by calling 323-882-6912 or online.

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Photos by Darrett Sanders
Top photo: Gina Manziello and ensemble