By Rachel Flanagan
Bruce A. Dickinson and Ensemble
Photo by Darrett Sanders
"To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town" and with that, Dylan Thomas draws you into a day in the life of the residents of a small Welsh seaside village of Llareggub (read it backwards). Notoriously known as a "play for voices", Under Milk Wood was created as a 1954 radio drama written by the Welsh poet, commissioned by the BBC and adapted for the stage. Open Fist Theatre Company brings this revered play to the Atwater Village theater in a production, ably directed by Ben Martin, that brings the dark comedy and deep characters to life on stage in a way that would make Thomas himself proud.
Richard Abraham and Carol Kline
Photo by Darrett SandersUnder Milk Wood is lyrically written in a way that allows the characters to shine with individuality and depth in just short skits throughout one day in the village. While the play itself has nearly forty individual characters, the Open Fist production had a large ensemble for such a small stage. The choreography of costume changes and character changes, often while shifting from one character to another on stage was quite eloquently done with few missteps sans a couple verbal flubs. Richard Abraham reminded me a bit of Christopher Lloyd-type character as he dreams of various poisons to use on his wife, played by Carol Kline, who busies herself spying on the neighbors in the town and casting judgment on each of them. Bryan Bertone in particular stands out, fluidly switching between a variety of characters, from policeman to ladies' man to Beynon the butcher. Gina Manziello plays Polly, sings beautifully about the love she lost while she spends her days scrubbing the floor.
Jennifer Kenyon and Bryan Bertone
Photo by Darrett SandersThe Open Fist ensemble features nineteen actors: Richard Abraham, Dillon Aurelio-Perata, Bryan Bertone, Christopher Cedeño, Stephanie Crothers, Cat Davis, Bruce A. Dickinson,Claire Fazzolari, Katherine Griffith, Jennifer Kenyon, Carol Kline, Tim Labor, Gina Manziello, Paul Myrvold, Neil Asa Oktay, Michael Philbrick, Katie May Porter, Kenia Romero, and Jade Santana doubling the roles to fill the stage with the voices of the inhabitants of the Welsh town. The creative team behind
Under Milk Wood includes lighting designer Ellen Monocroussos, music and sound director Tim Labor, costume designer Carol Brolaski Kline, graphic designer Liam Carl, and Jennifer Palumbo as the production stage manager and together with associate producers Beth Robbins, Amanda Weier, and Martha Demson, make up the wonderful team that put together a beautiful rendition of the Thomas classic.
Katherine Griffith and Carol Kline
Photo by Darrett SandersIn a time when social outcry is at an all-time high in the country, it's worth your time to sit back and enjoy falling into the lives of a town that really could be a small seaside town anywhere and fall in love with words and appreciate people for who they are as Dylan Thomas did. The Open Fist Ensemble at the Atwater Village theater will make you forget the present and enjoy a trip to the small seaside Welsh town Llareggub.
Under Milk Wood
Open Fist Theatre Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave. in Atwater Village
Thurs-Sat at 8; Sun at 7 ends on August 25, 2018
for tickets, call 323.882.6912 or visit Open Fist