Writer: Gwynne Edwards
Director: Gareth Armstrong
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
2014 sees the centenary celebrations of the birth of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, and to mark the occasion Rhodri Miles is touring a one man show named after a poem that Thomas wrote aged just 14 – Clown in the Moon. Set in a BBC studio and based around Thomas’ radio broadcasts, Miles plays the poet and explores his colourful and all-too-short life, from Wales to London to America and the characters he encounters along the way.
Gwynne Edwards’ script is clearly well researched and provides a good balance between laugh out loud anecdotes and the darker moments of Thomas’ life. Miles inhabits the words and the character extremely well, recreating Thomas’ broadcast persona and – the odd clown like movement which jars with the rest of the performance aside – creating a believable character as Thomas being himself, quite a feat considering there is no known moving footage of Thomas in existence to research.
The costume recreates Thomas’ look well although the padding used to give Miles Thomas’ build is a little unnatural looking. The feel of a BBC radio studio is given by the set while still giving Miles space to animate the stories and anecdotes of Thomas’ life. The lighting design, by Maximilien Spielbichler, transports the audience with ease between the world of the broadcaster and the world of the man and brings the production to a spine-tingling end as the lighting plays a big part in symbolising Thomas’ death – an effect spoilt somewhat by Miles having to fumble around with a lamp to make it happen.
Taking on a legend like Thomas in a one man show is a big ask but Miles is wholly engaging throughout the extreme highs and dark low points of the performance, making this production a must see for anyone with an interest in Thomas’ life and work.
Reviewed on 7th March 2014.