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Audio Drama Review


Under Milk Wood (2003)


Author: Dylan Thomas
Starring: Richard Burton, Sian Phillips, Glyn Houston, Matthew Rhys and Lisa Palfrey
BBC Audio
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 408 40053 1
Available 12 June 2008

Dylan Thomas's radio play, Under Milk Wood, was originally broadcast in 1954 on the BBC. Since then it's been adapted for both the stage and the big screen, and then in 2003 this new radio version was produced using Richard Burton's original recording as well as a whole new cast. Revisit the dreams and innermost thoughts of the inhabitants of the tiny Welsh village Llareggub...

Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2003, this "new" production of Under Milk Wood stars Richard Burton, whose voice has been digitally remastered and seamlessly mixed with an all-Welsh cast (as in the original) to create a magical, fresh visit to the unique but universal world of Llareggub ("bugger all" spelt backwards.)

You might well ask why on earth has this been re-released but with new supporting cast, or why bother to reuse Burton's voice? Both are very valid points, and other than to celebrate the play's 50th (almost) anniversary, I have no idea why the BBC felt it necessary to fiddle with a classic.

The play tells the story of a day in the life of the inhabitants of a small Welsh seaside town, their dreams and routines, their loves and regrets, their hopes and fears. With characters and phrases that have entered daily parlance, the play opens with "To begin at the beginning" and features such much-loved characters as No Good Boyo, Lilly Smalls, Polly Garter, Organ Morgan and Captain Cat.

Notable stars in the new recording include Sian Phillips, Matthew Rhys and Glyn Houston, as well as a guest appearance by John Humphrys (who must have been free that day).

If you haven't heard the original then this collection is worth picking up, as it's a great production. But for fans of the original, this new version may just have you shaking your head and asking "why?"


Amber Leigh

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