CLOWN IN THE MOON
“Truly Captivating” - Three Weeks ****
“Miles’ incarnation of Thomas is flawless, and succeeds in keeping its audience mesmerised right up until the final “dying of the light." - Broadway Baby ****
“Outstanding, undoubtedly one of the defining portrayals of the Swansea-born poet on stage” Wales Arts Review. “My early work came out of a person who came willy-nilly out of one particular atmosphere and environment and are part and parcel, park and castle, lark and sea shell, dark and school bell, muck and entrail, cock, rock and bubble, accent and sealap, root and rhythm of them”
Dylan Thomas In celebration of 100 years since his birth CLOWN IN THE MOON (the title of a poem written when Dylan was 14) is a dramatic portrait of the poet’s chaotic, frequently hilarious, and all too brief life. Located in a BBC studio, it sets some of Dylan’s famous broadcasts and iconic works alongside vivid reminiscences of his clownish antics in pubs, bars and parties, and his encounters with a host of eccentric and volatile women. This solo show is directed by the award-winning director and actor Gareth Armstrong (Shylock, My Darling Clemmie, Rape of Lucrece, Becoming Marilyn) and is written by award-winning writer Gwynne Edwards (Burton, Dylan Thomas in America). Rhodri Miles (Holby City, Torchwood, Richard II, Eastern Promises, Game of Thrones, Hinterland, Atlantis) returns as Dylan Thomas after his previous sell-out performances of the critically acclaimed ‘Burton’, winner of the ‘Best International Show Award’ at the Hollywood Fringe Theatre Festival in 2010. CLOWN IN THE MOON follows hot on the heels of his appearance as Lodovico in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre alongside ‘Wire’ actors Clarke Peters and Dominic West and his role as the Welsh Captain in Shakespeare’s Richard II in the BBCs Hollow Crown series.
Wednesday 6 August 2014 | By Vicki Baron ED2014 Theatre Review: Dylan Thomas – Clown In The Moon (Miles Productions) THREE WEEKS ****
This is a show about the life and mischief of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who died at the age of thirty-nine after a short but incredibly full life. Played by the superb Rhodri Miles, Thomas takes us through some of the most outlandish and outstanding moments of his life, interspersed with readings of his poetry in a BBC studio. The audience is treated to some sad stories, a few unbelievable anecdotes and many moments of pure joy. Miles’ depiction of the troubled but talented man is truly captivating, and director Gareth Armstrong maximises the show’s potential for humour as well as poignancy. ‘Clown In The Moon’ manages to be at once touching, educational and genuinely uplifting.
WALES ARTS REVIEW -Clown in the Moon by Elin Williams
The centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth has seen a considerable offering of pieces regarding the troubled poet and his all too short life. The temptation is to represent Thomas as a Welsh icon; as a romantic genius wistfully glancing out of the pub windows of Swansea. The reality is of course much less glamorous. Thomas’ life was plagued by poor health, infidelity and a fondness for drink that would become as legendary as any of his literary output. To find a production that is as ready to criticise as it is to celebrate however is relatively rare, but this one-man production of Clown in the Moon does just that. Rhodri Miles’ performance as the poet was exactly how one imagines Thomas might have been. The piece, skilfully written by Gwynne Edwards, was one which recounted peaks and troughs of the poet’s life punctuated by readings of Thomas’ works at the BBC radio studios in London. Miles moved expertly between the two, giving us the professional façade of the artist at a recital, before revealing the flawed, warts-and-all reality that lurked beneath the genius on the page. At times the audience could have closed their eyes and very seriously believed that Dylan Thomas was in the room with them; Miles’ mimicry of Thomas’ sing-song tones was outstanding. In fact his performance will undoubtedly become one of the defining portrayals of the Swansea-born poet on stage. Gwynne Edwards’ script is one that exudes the essence of Thomas and betrays an obviously encyclopaedic knowledge of his work. Edwards has managed to capture the spirit of Thomas, the lover and drinker, through prose which is intentionally reminiscent of the poet’s unique style. Combined with Miles’ painstaking performance, Clown in the Moon is a highly believable interpretation of what it really must have been like to experience the company of Dylan Marlais Thomas. Despite some erratic lighting and unnecessary blackouts, this production was hugely enjoyable and gave an honest, human account of the life of an ugly, lovely poet.
BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE Rating: **** Review by Philip Fisher
Rhodri Miles is by no means the first person to decide that Dylan Thomas is a perfect subject for an Edinburgh Fringe show, but his interpretation must be one of the best. There are a number of reasons why Clown in the Moon succeeds.First, Rhodri Miles embodies the Welsh poet, delivering poetry in a rich baritone and using good comic timing wherever necessary before conveying the tragedy of the world’s loss when Thomas finally drank himself to death never reaching his forties. Before that, we learn of the life and loves of a wild man seen at his BBC microphone and talking more casually to the audience. There are renditions of poems, most memorably “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”, though the beginning and end of “Under Milk Wood’ also hit the target. The Swansea-born writer’s self-destructiveness, drinking and womanizing with glee still has the power to amaze all these years later when such behaviour is more common. In particular, the way that he treated his poor wife and children was little short of callous. There are few really good Fringe shows on in the morning so this is definitely one to add to the wish list.
**** EdinburghGuide.com Reviews Dylan Thomas: Clown in the Moon, Assembly Hall, By Barbara Bryan – Posted on 14 August 2014
The title of this show, ‘Clown in the Moon’, is the title of the first poem Dylan Thomas wrote when he was fourteen. This year commemorates the centenary of Thomas’ birth and in this excellent, informative monologue Rhodri Miles, the narrator, takes us through Thomas’ journey as a rising poet to his premature death at the age of thirty-nine. We hear about his never-ending drunken escapades and affairs, even when he was married to Caitlin. But despite Thomas encouraging his reputation as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet” his skill as a writer marks him as one of the leading poets of the twentieth century, with poems such as “Do not go gentle in that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion”. To supplement his meagre income he broadcast quite frequently and Miles has captured his Welsh accent to a tee. He also did tours of America and his ‘play for voices’ – ‘Under Milk Wood’ – was first performed in New York, with Thomas as the narrator. Gwynne Edwards has written a good script, and it was a good performance (although Miles did rush it a bit at times) and a credible portrayal of this man who was a complex character. After his death in 1953 in New York of misdiagnosed pneumonia Caitlin later wrote, “Ours was a drink story, not a love story . . . the bar was our altar.”
Theatre Contribution to Thomas Centenary Not to be Missed Theatre-wales.co.uk Dylan Thomas: Clown in the Moon Miles Productions , Theatr Felinfach , March-20-14
Theatre writer Gwynne Edwards is having a good 2014. A play, cast unusually for five women, has been premiered in Los Angeles. Chapter has seen a scriptin- hand production by Michael Kelligan’s company of his “Wilfred Owen: the Pity of War”. An adaptation of a behemoth of a European play is underway for one of London’s most admired small theatres. And, fourthly, Rhodri Miles and director Gareth Armstrong have added “Dylan Thomas: Clown in the Moon” to the DT100 festival of celebration for this year. It is a noble addition to the commemorations.
Gwynne Edwards’ script artfully blends the verse and the life, achieved via a stage device that is as simple as it effective. In his playing of the poet Rhodri Miles uncannily gets the register and the incantatory quality in the reading, that propelled Thomas to being a unlikely favourite on radio request programmes. The life that is enacted- London, the USA and beloved Laugharne- is crammed, rambunctious, frequently very funny. Edwards brings on a swathe of Bohemian London figures, usually not far from the triangle of Fitzrovia, Wheatsheaf and Marquis of Granby pubs.
A Swansea boyhood competition with Mervyn Levy is unsuitable for description on an open-to-all-eyes site. Early London girlfriend Pamela Hansford Johnson declares an admiration for the Marquis de Sade, an enthusiasm, remarks the poet, that is strictly restricted to the writings rather than the emulation. A Thames houseboat provides an early lodging place and, inevitably, the poet has to be fished out of the river with the aid of a boathook. Tenby-born Nina Hamnett is revealed as having a particular eye for onshore sailors.
Thomas and Caitlin move with some speed to a hotel, where they stay for four uninterrupted days, and the room is blithely booked in the name of Augustus John. Thomas ends a talk to an all-women audience with the cheering injunction “Let copulation thrive!” This strand of theatre needs a surface of event and movement but its inner life relies on an emotional undertone. The Thomas that Edwards has reenvisioned is filled with lament that he has by necessity become a kind of performer. “A second rate Charles Laughton” he says of himself, a Welshman on show. He sets off for London “a city paved with poems- or so I thought” but soon finds the partying to consist of “repeating endless platitudes.” He is back for Coronation Day not long before his death and finds the city “queasy, purple, maggoty.”
“The Clown in the Moon” has surface colour a-plenty- Dali is here having to be rescued from suffocation in a diving suit- but a powerful emotional current runs throughout. Rhodri Miles has been touring an award-winning performance of “Burton” for some years. On his first appearance the alchemical art of acting makes him unrecognisable from his earlier performance. His Thomas has the combed-up hair, the bowtie and braces, the contour of a slightly rounded stomach. He and director Gareth Armstrong have worked long and hard on the voice and speech patterns.
A production like this, seventy-five minutes on stage, needs a surge of regular impetus. The direction provides, entirely unobtrusively, the movement, ebb and flow, rise and fall. Lighting designer Maximilien Spielbichler has the use of arc lights on stage as part of the design and provides a memorable image for the final valedictory reading of verse. Theatr Felinfach, shortly to host Arwel Gruffydd’s dynamically re-imagined Theatr Genedlaethol, is the most appropriate of venues. Aeronwy, Gwynne Edwards tells us, was not just named after the Aeron, a stone’s throw from the theatre, but conceived on its banks.
The tour of “Dylan Thomas: Clown in the Moon” continues to Mwldan, Wyseside, Crickhowell and Aberystwyth, then to venues in England. Rhodri Miles will be performing the role, back to back with his Richard Burton, at the Assembly Rooms over three weeks of the Edinburgh Festival. Reviewed by: Adam Somerset.
Miles Productions in association with Cahoots Theatre Company present:
DYLAN THOMAS:CLOWN IN THE MOON
DATES AND VENUES
October 24th/25th -RADA Studios | October 27th – Pontio, Bangor | November 1st – The Place, Bedford | November 4th – Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli | November 6th – Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen | November 7th – The Miners, Ammanford | November 21st – Riverside Theatre, Newport | December 10th - Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff | December 12th - Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Works used in the play:-
Do not go gentle into that good night
Extract from Under Milk Wood
The force that through the green fuse
Poem on His Birthday
In My Craft or Sullen Art
Visit to America - Extracts from radio broadcasts
The Clown in the Moon
The last time I slept with the Queen
There was an old bugger called God
Pamela Hansford Johnson, 15 October 1933:
Pamela Hansford Johnson, 27 May, 1934:
Caitlin Macnamara, early May 1937:
Caitlin Macnamara, 17 July, 1936:
Emily Holmes Coleman, 28,29 January 1937:
Vernon Watkins, 28 October 1944:
Caitlin Thomas, 1943, no date:
Margaret Taylor,11 May 1949
Caitlin Thomas, 25 February 1950:
Daniel Jones, 21 March 1952:
Caitlin Thomas, 8 December 1952
Liz Reitell, 16 June 1953:
Caitlin Thomas, May 23 1953: