This production of Under Milk Wood came about by our wish to embrace the circumstance of the Coronavirus restrictions. The idea was to prove to ourselves and others in a similar situation that recent technological innovations provide opportunities to overcome some limitations, and to demonstrate our ability to do worthwhile drama under lockdown. Under Milk Wood was chosen, because – as originally a radio play – it was possible to adapt it for the (very) small screen. It is also made up of a large number of small scenes which could be depicted by individual actors, and then edited together. The text was edited to make the project viable. It was interesting then to see with what ingenuity individual actors or pairs of actors sought to enact their scenes, using the backdrops of their homes and gardens and neighbourhoods. It is worth noting that a range of different domestic electronic devices were used to record the scenes. The process of editing together the whole demanded considerable editing skills. The result is for you to appraise. We think that we have created something that shows success in harnessing talents co-operatively using contemporary technology that is widely available. Donald Elliott

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Under Milk Wood

A neighbourhood community with all its neighbourly tittle-tattle is Dylan Thomas’s paean to his native Wales which was given a take-over by us, experimenting during this isolating Covid 19 period by performing remotely with techniques mostly new to us. Hopefully we have put the fun in tittle & the sting in tattle as we endeavoured to perform using our laptops and iPhones as our cameras (often with helpful remote guidance!) On our regular weekly online meets, though alone, we share a cameraderie and observations via our brief windows and this result is a mere flicker in homage to Dylan’s extremely well observed, beautiful, literary gem of observation and word painting! We hope our result is worthy, in a time when to communicate and share with each other is so vital. We look forward to when we can all mingle again! Richard Russell


Richard Worland, Richard Russell, Sean Kibbey, Donald Elliott, Yvonne Levy, Angie McIntosh, Jeanie Deane, Anna Brown, Ann El Mahjoub, Keiron Spires, Cathy Jeffrey, Viv Peyton, Nikki Fisher, Judith Bevan, Laura Barritt, Sandra Melville

Produced and Directed by Keiron Spires (Encore Theatre Company) and Nikki Fisher (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

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Reviews of Under Milk Wood

What a wonderful film/play/poem. The language is so exhilarating and the multi-voiced form actually lends itself to the remote recording very well. The editing is very impressive and seamless – characters really seem to be talking to each other – and the use of beautiful stills and music help make it a unified whole. The fact that it is filmed in many locations actually reinforces the sense that though this is llareggub it could be anywhere…….. a poetry of everyday life. So all in all a triumph, many, many congratulations to the whole company.

There are some lovely moments in it and wonderful editing. What a clever, brilliant thing to have done and beautifully directed by Keiron with all the snippets of countryside and village street edited in. Really very fine. You should all be very proud. Dylan would be proud of you. So difficult, I imagine, just doing your pieces in isolation but they’re synchronised beautifully. Well done!

Cards on the table, Dylan Thomas is a specialty in our house, like pan-fried fish nuzzled in capers. For us it was going to be a Christmas treat.  We pressed play and drifted into the magical knotted lives of a coastal Welsh village and unraveling dreams. We were not disappointed. Encore’s production was a delicious romp. The humour, the pathos and robust quality of the play were all there creeping through the verbal subtlety, word-play, the rhythm and essence of the poetry. A faithful rendition indeed! Facing the technology and editing challenges must have been daunting but both were managed seamlessly, and until told otherwise, we assumed you had relied on professionals. Not a bit of it! Bravo, Encore! The Times, in a very early (1956-ish) review of the play made the following statement about Dylan Thomas: ‘…..he had disturbed the roots of our language in an organic way and given it a new vitality.’ The Encore ensemble, with its unique interpretation, has enhanced this vitality with faithful ears and lyrical tongues…… and props that  had lives of their own. That feather duster should have been X-rated! A blooming zooming feast! Encore! Encore!

Have just thoroughly enjoyed your Under Milk Wood. Loved it. Many thanks to you and all the cast and everyone involved. I can appreciate how much skill and effort went into producing such a thoughtful and evocative piece….. My last engagement with it as a performance was in Khartoum, Sudan in 1982c. You might not be surprised to learn that I was primarily Mrs Pugh! A small contribution to Felix made. What is next up with Encore?

I enjoyed this very much. I particularly liked the use of sound and pictures, very apt and atmospheric, and felt that you had all done a good and varied job of recording yourselves. The editing it all together was excellent. Look forward to seeing your next works.

The other night, E and I turned off the TV, set up the Tablet, and managed to get “Under Milk Wood” loud and clear and thoroughly enjoyable.   I so love the language that I’d probably enjoy a Muppet version, but yours was infinitely better than that!   I was particularly impressed by the photography and the outside filming, and the editing. The realisation of the multitude of characters was variable, perhaps limited by the availability of actors, most of whom were “of an age” – though, to some extent so are the inhabitants of Llareggyb.  What I most missed was consistent Welsh accents –  presumably that was a directorial decision – as when we were encouraged NOT to try American accents in Blewbury’s “The Crucible”.    But everything about UMW is Welsh, and I thought it was a pity.   I could have done with a better enunciation at times, too.  I wasn’t worried about people being static – it is after all a radio play – and I thought that the sets and costumes were on the whole well chosen. It was cut, wasn’t it?   Why?  Perhaps the clocks might have presented some problems, but I wanted more of Polly Garter, and the 2 Mrs Dai Bread. Having said that, we really did exult in it, and didn’t notice till the end that the heating had gone off.

….What a delight that was – had to watch it in 3 segments between jobs but I did so enjoy it.  Lovely to hear those wonderful words again and see you all so immersed.  Brilliant job of editing.

Well done, it was super. It has been put together so well – whistles & bells & a male voice choir -😮. We so enjoyed it – it was like being at the pictures! Please pass on my congratulations to everyone.