[20060010] Under Milk Wood

Under Milk Wood

Guy Masterson @ Union Hall

4:20pm, Sat 25 Feb 2006

Score: 10

After a false start due to technical problems, and with the lesser lights of the O’Ball line-up seeping through the walls of Union Hall, Guy Masterson stands atop a chair – the only prop of his enthralling 90 minute monologue. Snapping flawlessly between 69 characters, he paints Dylan Thomas’ vision of the hamlet of Milk Wood with a wonderfully rich palette.

Masterson roams the entire stage as he recounts the lives of Milk Wood’s inhabitants, earnestly engaging the audience… it’s a very physical performance. His energy rises and falls with the character being portrayed; at times quiet and restrained, then moments later explosive. Some scenes – the children leaving school, Gwennie Gwennie chasing the boys and catching a willing Johnnie Christo – are a delight, full of youthful energy and sheer joy; other scenes feel far more ominous, weightier, sombre; still others – like the wonderful Pughs – are played straight for laughs.

Not only did the performance put on show the characters of this functional (and dysfunctional) town (“this place of love”), it also captured the joy and happiness of the spring day in which it was set; you could almost feel the time of day pass with the performance. Utterly fascinating.

Technical support for Masterson’s superlative performance was limited to gorgeous lighting and a few vocal effects (for the voices of the dead). Though the lighting started out a little sloppy, it quickly tightened up… and the effect of Masterson’s giant shadow on the back of the stage, when used, was sublime.

Yet again in Union Hall, there was rapturous applause. This time, it was richly deserved.

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