Volume 6 Week 27

Monday, Nov. 110


Updated Nov. 21

Updated July 12

Phil McNeely
Posted Feb. 12




(Posted 2 p.m., Nov. 25)
Young theatre company takes on difficult production with aplomb
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The ENCORE! Theatre production of 'Under Milk Wood' featured a number of fine performances by the young cast which included Albert Nasrallah as Cpt. Cat and Karine Longpré as Polly Garter. Fred Sherwin/Photo

I find I am at a bit of a loss in trying to write a review of the ENCORE! Theatre Company's latest production of the Dylan Thomas classic Under Milk Wood.

On the one hand the young cast did an amazing job portraying close to 60 characters and memorizing more than 90 minutes of monologue. But on the other hand the sheer immensity of the script and the number of characters made it difficult to follow.

Billed as "a play for voices", it would be more appropriate to call it a play for the ears. At the time the play was written in the late 40s, most people derived their entertainment listening to serials on the radio. It's not surprising then that Thomas originally wrote the play for the BBC.

Under Milk Wood is a play you have to listen to intently to truly enjoy, especially in the first act. Unfortunately, there is such a whirlwind of characters and dialogue, I was lost after the first five minutes.

The play itself is about a small seaside village in Wales and its inhabitants. The first act examines the dreams of the main characters as they lay sleeping.

What they're dreams were about I don't have the foggiest, except for Cpt. Cat played wonderfully by Albert Nassrallah, who dreamt of his old seafaring buddies and a lost love.

The second act is much easier to follow than the first as it's played out in real time with the characters living out their daily lives.

Nassrallah was brilliant in his portrayal of several other lead characters including Organ Morgan, Cherry Owen and Mr. Waldo. The rest of the cast which included Clair Hogan, Karine Longpré, Teri James, Maryse Darch, Sarah Benfield, Maritie Lord and Gordon Watts did a great job as well. I especially liked Longpré's portrayal of the pregnant Polly Garter and Hogan was a treat as always even down to her role as one of Cpt. Jacks' old buddies and a cow.

In hindsight, I wish I had read the play first before going to see it which would have made it much easier to follow along and enjoy the characters. As it was, I left the theatre feeling uneasy and unclear of what I had just sat through.

Hopefully, when they get around to picking their next production, the folks at ENCORE! will choose something a little more mainstream with a clear plot line. Something in the realm of previous productions such as Our Town and The Miracle Worker, two plays that still rank among my all time favourites.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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