Adelaide Festival: Dylan Thomas – Return Journey

Bob Kingdom. Photo supplied by Adelaide Festival of Arts
Bob Kingdom. Photo supplied by Adelaide Festival of Arts

In this gently rambling poetic hour and a bit, actor Bob Kingdom is Dylan Thomas. He doesn’t move around the space much, nor does his take on Dylan’s poems, anecdotes and short stories move around too much in tempo or pace. But Kingdom’s mesmerising performance and articulation of the writing encapsulates the beauty of Dylan’s words, the feeling of the time, and the form of poetry recital so finely, that we don’t need much dramatic dressing up of it to go on this historical literary adventure.

This show has toured internationally, attracting acclaim in its wake, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s quite stunning – in its simplicity and arrangement. Maybe it is not one for those not into the work and life of Dylan Thomas, as it is a pure celebration of the great poet.

A (Thomas) journey across the country with his Uncle and mates is funny, interesting and very human; the way men were at the time and the ins and outs of the countryside and pubs drawing us into the boozy world of the poet.

[pull_left]This has toured internationally, attracting acclaim in its wake, and it’s not hard to see why[/pull_left]

The second poem in the show Lament reminds us that all is not light and airy in the mind of the great man; and the themes of death and darkness recur in gloomy glimmers at other times in the play.

Kingdom does some delightful character switches, my favourite is the conversation with the barmaid. The quotes and one liners are so reminiscent of another time and way and the emotions and descriptions in Dylan’s’ beautiful writing so well honoured by Kingdom’s voice and commitment to each moment, that we slide along many of the shades of grey of the human condition, and are reminded of the importance of Thomas’ work, and more broadly of the craft of poetry itself.

Unfortunately the site-lines were not what they could’ve been in this presentation. There was lots of head bobbing and moving going on from the rows in the second half of the room to try to see the actor (“I can’t see a thing” the elderly lady behind me said). A small stage to lift Mr Kingdom above us all would have offered so much more. The work deserves it. That said, if you were down the front few rows, you really had a great time with the wonderful words and Bob’s expressions, I’m sure.

The program says, “…your chance to experience the magical work of the acclaimed poet.” And yes that pretty well sums it up. Bob Kingdom, originally directed by Sir Anthony Hopkins, was (almost) the man himself, and took us into Dylan Thomas’s amazing poetry and his world with style and charisma.

Stephen House

Stephen is a writer with numerous plays, exhibitions and short films produced. He has been commissioned often and directs and performs his work. He has won two AWGIE Awards from The Australian Writers Guild and an Adelaide Fringe Award (as well as more), and has received several international literature residencies. Stephen has been Artistic Director of many events. He has been performing his acclaimed solo show, “Appalling Behaviour” nationally from 2010 – 2014 (100 shows to date). Stephen has 2 new works in development.

Stephen House

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *