REVIEW: The National Theatre's production of Under Milk Wood, starring Michael Sheen, was much anticipated and turned into a mixed experience.
It was much anticipated partly because it's my first trip to the National since before the pandemic, in part because I haven't seen Michael Sheen on stage since Hamlet at the Young Vic and partly because I've never seen Under Milk Wood before.
The play is framed in a care home setting, the Milk Wood story, to help an elderly man with dementia remember. We are transported to Welsh fishing village Llareggub (bugger all backwards 🙂) at night, where the residents sleep, their dreams revealed by the narrator (Michael Sheen).
We then follow them into the day and their inner thoughts, which reveal their true feelings - longing, revenge, desire, hope, contentment, frustration, joy and more.
The extraordinary and ordinary
Their thoughts are an extraordinary, emotionally colourful soundtrack to the ordinariness of their day. A day punctured by routine and often mundane tasks.
Michael Sheen's narrator tells us their thoughts using Dylan Thomas' vivid, lyrical language, sometimes with the ensemble playing along as the villagers, sometimes not.
And this is where my experience of watching the play was mixed.