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Customer Review

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Time passes. Listen. Time passes.", 30 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Under Milk Wood: BBC Radio 4 Full-cast Dramatisation (BBC Radio Collection) (Audio Cassette)
Written as a "play for voices" for the BBC, this historic audiotape features the all-Welsh cast of the original BBC production from 1954. Richard Burton is the First Voice, which connects all the characters, played by twenty-eight men, women, and children. With perfect diction and the sense of character which only a great actor can convey, Burton rolls his R's, modulates his voice in pitch and intensity, and makes Thomas's poetry come fully alive--full of alliteration and various kinds of rhyme, with nouns and adjectives used as verbs to convey action and sense impressions simultaneously, and always a wry humor and honesty of feeling.

Depicting one full day in the life of a small town in Wales, Thomas shows its motley residents as they awaken, perform their daily tasks, socialize, gossip, and daydream about the past that might have been and the future that may yet hold hope. When night falls and the residents retire, their losses and disappointments, along with their escapes into dreams, are given voice and poignancy. Polly Garter, with her numerous children by numerous fathers, dreams of Willie, a very small man who was the love of her life. Captain Cat, the blind bell-ringer, thinks of all the sailors he knew who died at sea. Mr. Pugh dreams of poisoning his wife, and young Gwenny, who has extorted pennies from the little boys who do NOT want to kiss her, plans for the next day and more pennies.

The sound effects provide context for the drama without overpowering the narrative--a cock's crow, the clip-clop of horses, the bark of dogs, footsteps, the sea, bell buoys--and simple songs add to the realism and the sense of character and place. A mournful tune performed by Polly Garter in a minor key, as she remembers Willie and compares him to her other lovers, is beautifully sung by Diana Maddox, her clear, bell-like voice and almost palpable sadness making her one of the most memorable of the characters. A humorous children's singing game, sung by local school children, gives added realism, and little Gwenny's song to three very young boys is delightfully cheeky. Both enchanting and historically important, this memorable recording is worth seeking through Used sites or through best recording ever made of this wonderful "play for voices." Mary Whipple
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Initial post: 3 Mar 2010 14:08:43 GMT
Without doubt, 'Under Milk Wood' is one of Dylan's best. It often surprises me, though, that no-one ever mentions looking beyond the comedy to the underlying reassurance we get from the reading/listening (preferably both) that all our frailities are really of no account. The Reverend Eli Jenkins - who 'appears' now and again, gives us a summary of his absolute faith in the beautiful prayer at the doorstep of Bethesda House '.....and thou O Lord wilt be the first.....To see our best side...Not our worst. Contrast this directly with the very next event when Jack Black goes out to meet his Satan in the wood' - Funny? Of course, all means nothing - it's just a part of life, and must be viewed in the 'light' of Rev.Eli's faith that 'all shall be well' ("And all shall be well and.....All manner of thing shall be well" -NOT ('thing' NOT things) the equally great T S Eliot)
What is ENORMOUSLY surprising is that the version in which Richard Burton is the lead narrator is ALWAYS cited as the best ever. It is undoubtedly great. But the production by Sir George Martin with Anthony Hopkins as lead narrator is, in my opinion, the very best. (The Reverend Eli is played by the great Sir Geraint Evans, and he sings The evening prayer with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir -director Dr Haydn James. It is absolutely first-class!) Sadly it is almost impossible to buy the CD now. Its availability has just dried up. (I recently bid up to £15.00 as a gift for one of my cousins, and it eventually sold for something like £40.xyp!) However, in summary: Buy this CD if/when it becomes available; enjoy the comedy, and.....above all look beyond that to the philosophy beyond, and know that there are still many beautiful things in what is too often a sad world. David D Dallison, Aberdare, Wales -
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