We are not wholly bad or good, we live our lives under Milk Wood-

Dylan Thomasʼ Under Milk Wood is transformed in the North Melbourne Town Hall, as one woman walks us through a tapestry of dreams, murder, the smell of onions, tiny houses and magnificent words.
 
Fifty-six after it was written we are invited to once again journey into the dark and sleepy sea-side town of Llareggub where everyone has a secret and stories trickle down the damp walls and waft out the windows into the salty air. Zoe Norton Lodge, straight from a critically acclaimed season at Sydney’s Sidetrack Theatre, plays all 64 characters – a challenge indeed as she transformsherself  from male to female, young to old, wraps her mouth around a chorus of Welsh accents and around Dylan’s exquisitely winding prose. She is complemented in her art by director Vanessa Hughes’ simple set and video installations all of which merge to deliver a lyrical and visually poetic adaption of a much loved classic.
 
This production is a life long labour of love for both Norton Lodge and Hughes and if the Sydney critics are any judge – this comes through loud and clear in performance and presentation. In fact,  Norton Lodge’s love for Dylan Thomas and Under Milk Wood originated in childhood when her father Paul read verses of it as bedtime stories. The seed for the current production was sown in 2001 when Zoe, then 17, performed a five-minute version of the play on her schoolmate Vanessa Hughes’ bed.That was the beginning of a collaboration and the rest, as they say, is history.
 
“We’ve got a lot of audio recordings, we’ve got a lot of projections and also there’s me jumping around!” says Norton Lodge. “Some [of the play’s] characters are tough nuts to crack, like, really tough,” says Hughes. “It took us some time to come to terms with [Lord Cut-Glass] because he’s absolutely mad – schizophrenic or something.” (Lord Cut-Glass, who “in his kitchen full of time listens to the voices of his sixty-six clocks, one for each year of his loony age…)
 
Under Milk wood was originally written as a radio play – then later adapted for the stage – and even in this form is not short of posing a few challenges re. defining distinct characters and voices. The most famous voice of all belonging to Richard Burton with Dylan Thomas himself contributing to the radio show. With the 1972 movie featuring Burton, Peter O’Toole and Elizabeth Taylor.
 
“I’m the queen of the stupidest ideas,” says Norton Lodge," and you just always have to throw them out there, until people laugh at you and then move on. Sometimes little nuggets of [comedic] gold pop through!”
 
A one woman show that is equal parts performance and multisensory media experiment and is brought to the North Melbourne Town Hall over September/October by Bambina Borracha Productions who, in just over two years, have been nominated for the Sydney Theatre Awards (Best Independent Production – Beyond the Neck, 2009) and won the Adelaide Fringe Festival People’s Choice Award for Words They Make With Their Mouths (2010). This adaptation of Under Milk Wood is a loving but nonetheless challenging venture. "I’ve definitely never done anything this ambitious,” confirms Vanessa Hughes.

 

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