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REVIEW: Under Milk Wood

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

****

AS with all the best soap operas, it's fitting the pub should be at the centre of Gareth Nicholls's staging of Dylan Thomas's seminal radio play concerning the bustle of life in a day in the imaginary hamlet of Llareggub.

Presented as part of the Tron's Home Nations Festival of poetic drama that forms part of the Commonwealth Games arts programme, Nicholls takes full advantage of the Tron Community Company's resources to put quaking flesh on the rich bones of Thomas's big, rambunctious symphony of inner yearning, shattered dreams and hidden hopes that the play evolves into.

With the narrator's lines split three ways between the bar staff of Charlotte Lane's wood-lined howf, the rest of the townsfolk either prop up the bar or else sit in repose at a floor of tables until they spring into life to lay bare their hearts desires.

At one point in what at times looks and sounds like the physical evocation of a saucy seaside postcard, the entire 16-strong ensemble get on their feet for the sort of dance routine that only ever fully lets rip in an after-hours lock-in situation.

The musicality of the piece is accentuated even further here by a new chamber pop score by Michael John McCarthy, and performed live by a guitar, bass and percussion trio who provide a sublime set of arrangements for the songs of the ever fertile Polly Garter.

These are sung with clarity and grace by Jacqueline Thain as Polly in a version of the play that grabs lustily at its libido-driven heart that pulses an entire community in all its topsy-turvy glory.

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