REVIEW by Tracey Warr

NWR Issue 106

Under Milk Wood

by Dylan Thomas (script) Peter Blake (ill)

This book brings together Dylan Thomas’ play for voices, Under Milk Wood, and Peter Blake’s obsessive pictorial responses to the play produced over the last twenty-eight years. Under Milk Wood was first performed live in New York in 1953 with Thomas taking one of the roles, and first broadcast by the BBC in 1954 featuring the voice of Richard Burton. An exhibition of Blake’s work inspired by the play was shown recently at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and at Oriel y Parc, St Davids. Thomas worked on the text that became Under Milk Wood for twenty-two years, referring to it as ‘that infernally eternally unfinished “Play”’, and similarly Blake has been working for years on this body of paintings, collages and drawings: ‘I just kept on like a dog with a bone.’

Thomas’ play tells the story of one night and spring day for the residents of the fictional Welsh fishing village of Llareggub. Rooted in reality, Thomas’ observations and experiences in Laugharne and New Quay have been claimed as partial models for Llareggub, although Llansteffan, a ferry-ride across the Taf from Laugharne, where many of Thomas’ relatives lived, also perhaps contributed to Thomas’ imaginary village and its occupants. Under Milk Wood is both a parody of, and an ode to, those observed realities...

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previous review: Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting
next review: The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature


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