Another Boy Who Won't Grow Up, Not Even After He's Dead

Very short review. Yesterday we saw Geraint Wyn Davies impersonating Dylan Thomas in the one-man show, Do Not Go Gentle at the Studio Theatre.

If you like Dylan Thomas or if you like Geraint Wyn Davies, this is a very pleasurable hour and a half in both of their company. The show places Thomas in purgatory, doomed to walk his messy study for a time until he has “come to terms” with himself and his history, at which point he’ll be passed through the gates into Paradise. It’s very hard indeed for me to imagine Thomas ever submitting to such an Oprah-fied entry requirement and, indeed, my opinion was not altered by the show. Indeed, it’s not clear that the Thomas we are given is in any way engaged with a project of trying to get into heaven, which is a real problem for the conceit. Being trapped in a state of permanent unlife would indeed approximate a kind of nightmare for the poet, and his desperately futile efforts to escape from such a condition could make for an interesting drama and comment on the author’s own oeuvre. But that’s not what we’re given. Instead, we’re given a portrait of the artist as a garrulous drunk, regaling us with stories of his childhood and of his sexual exploits, much as, by report, he did in life.

All of which is fine, and, as I say, it’s an enjoyable hour and a half. I saw the show in New York and it is much more effectively staged at the Studio in Stratford, where the actor is surrounded by his audience. And Wyn Davies is clearly having fun playing the part. But it’s not really a play. And I admit, I found myself musing whether it wouldn’t have been more interesting to see Wyn Davies attempt a one-man Under Milk Wood.

(Though the literary outing I still most want Stratford to take me on is a production of the Nighttown chapter from Ulysses. . . )