Under Milk Wood

Director: Kevin Allen (2015)

This trippy and licentious adaption of the famous Dylan play is entertaining, coherent and consistently bold.

It’s my introduction to his nightmarish verse of seaside misery and is an eye and ear opening experience.

Commissioned by BBC as a radio play and later adapted for the stage, the play was completed in by the Welsh poet shortly before his death in New York aged 39.

Set in the fictional Welsh fishing village of Llareggub. The name is pointedly ‘bugger all’ spelt backwards.

Described as ‘a small decaying watering place’, it hums to the sound of pagan rituals, a male voice choir, much organ music and a brass band.

The visual cacophony of saturated colours, blurred focus and obscure camera angles creates a vivid and disturbing dreamlike world.

A first film version in 1972 starred Hollywood greats Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor. This one has a grizzled Rhys Ifans and a comely Charlotte Church.

The artist formerly known as the voice of an angel gamely joins in the bawdy business. She’s confident on camera and showcases her talent with a touching torch song in a slow jazz style.

Ifans narrates through the character of the blind Captain Cat. The Welshman relishes the poetry and his confident, lyrical delivery is a major strength.

The Captain guides us through the dreams and fantasies of the sleeping inhabitants with names such as Nogood Boyo, Sinbad Sailors, Mrs. Willy Nilly and Organ Morgan.

They’re a collage of gossiping grotesques preoccupied with lust, loss, longing, murder and madness.

The play’s lack of narrative flow and moral navigation leaves us bobbing about on a murky tide of humanity without the safe harbour of a climax.

I watched the English language version and the Welsh language version is the UK’s submission for the Best Foreign Language award at next year’s Oscars.

I wish it the best of British luck.