Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Under Milk Wood

By Dylan Thomas

Under Milk Wood

Directed by Paul S. Holmquist

Produced by Caffeine Theatre

At Chicago DCA Theater’s Storefront Theater

Excellent ensemble work brings Dylan Thomas’ poetic language to life.

“To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea.” – opening lines, spoken by First Voice

“We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood ”  – prayer of the Reverend Eli Jenkins

Billed as “A play for voices” radio play (1954), Under Milkwood is poet, short story and playwright Dylan Thomas’ delightful darkly funny play about an imaginary Welsh town (Llareggub).  The narrator invites audiences to listen and experience the dreams and innermost thoughts of the Welsh villagers in the 1950’s.

These insanely likable characters include Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, relentlessly bossing her two dead husbands; Captain Cat, reliving his seafaring times; the two Mrs Dai Breads; Organ Morgan, obsessed with his music; and Polly Garter, pining for her dead lover. As the town wakes and, aware now of how their feelings affect whatever they do, we watch them go about their daily business. These are but a few of them more than 47 characters deftly played by the 9 cast members: Kaitlin Byrd, Charles Filipov, Dan Granata, Jacqui Jackson, Elise Kauzlaric, Calie Munson, Paul Myers, Kate Nawrocki and Dave Skvarla.

This cast, among the finest non-Equity players in Chicago, under Paul S. Holmquist’s tight and inventive direction, did far more than merely ‘voices’ as this energetic ensemble vividly presented–acted-out really-  each of the scenes of Thomas’ ambitious play. We witness the cast deftly moving from one quirky character to another while sporting authentic Welsh brogues (kudos to dialect coach Christine Adaire).  This is truly and ensemble work that finds each cast member getting their moments to shine while the others nicely support them. The sharply witty poetic language vividly comes to life through the skilled articulation and rich accents of this cast. Being able to project and enunciate Thomas’ poetry–and have the language understood–is no small task but this cast made the meanings crystal clear evoking all the wacky humor contained.  This is absolutely one of the finest ensemble works of the year!

We see the everyday life of the odd Welsh villagers as they endure humanity’s bawdy and magnificent possibilities. You’ll long remember the day in the life of the folks of Llareggub, Wales. You’ll laugh, cry and relate to the foibles of humanity expressed by Thomas’ 47 characters. This  100 minute on-act will grab you and hold you throughout. The wonderfully rich imagery from Thomas’ poetic language is told with authentic truthfulness by this amazing cast.  Come to the downtown Storefront Theatre to see what Chicago ensemble actors can do with a complex play. You’ll be amazed.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At the Stonefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph, Chicago, IL, call 312-742-8497,, tickets $20, 419 for seniors, $16 for students, Friday thru Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 1 hour, 40 minutes without intermission.

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