Under Milk Wood staged by Theatre Clwyd

We all love Under Milk Wood. Why? Most obviously because of the language, the imagery, its colour and resonance; and the eccentric characters and their Welshness. But there is also here a love of life and its confrontation with death. At the end you should be buoyant and glow with the warmth of the piece. The current production by the Clwyd Theatre is the third time I have seen it staged and the first which I have not enjoyed. I am astonished that such an experienced director as Terry Hands should find it necessary to give us such an “in your face” presentation. The language works by itself, it does not need to be shrill, strident and over-interpreted. The characters are already caricatures; they do not need to be exaggerated. Indeed, with such treatment they lose their humanity so necessary for the audience’s engagement. And it is unforgiveable to break up the rhythm and flow of the piece for visual gags, and for the cast to laugh at their own antics.