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Theatre / Under Milk Wood

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"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."

Under Milk Wood is a play for voices by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. It recounts a day in the life of a small Welsh fishing village, Llareggub, frequently skipping from character to character and showing their thoughts as well as their outward actions. The whole is guided by two narrators, denoted in the script as "First Voice" and "Second Voice".

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The first widely-available production of the play was recorded by the BBC and aired in 1954, with an all-Welsh cast led by Richard Burton as the First Voice.

This play provides examples of:

  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Llareggub (pronounced Khlar - regg - ib) looks like a real Welsh place name to the untrained eye, but try reading it backwards.
  • Gossipy Hens: Mrs. Organ Morgan and her social circle.
  • Henpecked Husband:
    • Mrs Pugh nags and Mr Pugh reads books called Lives of the Great Poisoners.
    • Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard bosses both her dead husbands. Yes, there's no escape.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: When Bessie Bighead first appears she is putting flowers on the grave of Gomer Owen who "kissed her once by the pigsty when she wasn't looking, and never kissed her again, although she was looking all the time." That line gets a laugh. Later on in the play, when we've learned more about Bessie—that she has what today we'd call Down Syndrome, and that Gomer only kissed her because he was dared by his buddies—there is almost always a gasp from the audience when they realize what they had previously laughed at.
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  • Quirky Town
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Llareggub.
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation: Several, notably a film version in the 1970s with Richard Burton reprising the role of First Voice and also featuring Peter O'Toole and Elizabeth Taylor.
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