Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Child’s Christmas in Wales"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Carl A. Rossi


original story by Dylan Thomas
adapted and directed by Burgess Clark

Dylan Thomas … Stephen Libby
Father; Fireman … Steven Barkhimer
Mother … Margaret Ann Brady
Auntie Bessie … Shana Dirik
Nancy Thomas … Franci DuMar
Young Dylan Thomas … Adam Freeman
Auntie Hannah; Mrs. Prothero … Anne Gardiner
Jack Briggs … Coleman Hirschberg
Uncle Jim; Tom Thompkins; Fireman … Allan Mayo
Uncle Norman; Mr. Prothero; Fireman … Robert D. Murphy

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and Boston Children’s Theatre have brought back their enchanting celebration of Dylan Thomas’ A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES, adapted and directed by Burgess Clark and featuring most of its original cast --- it is clearly destined to become a local holiday tradition. When this WALES premiered at the BCA, last December, I scribbled:

“…[this] is the richest, most textured piece of fruitcake that I’ve sampled since Stoneham Theatre’s CHRISTMAS CAROL, [seven] years ago … I was prepared for an evening of Readers’ Theatre and, yes, an actor impersonating the late Mr. Thomas serves as narrator and guide to his cozy, quarrelsome family but Mr. Burgess has fleshed out such slender fare into an actual two-act play with living-breathing portraits and true-sounding dialogue ranging from the tender to the bawdy, and he has kept Mr. Thomas’ verbal flights to a blessed minimum: here are the parents, the sister, the assorted aunts and uncles witnessed by a boy and immortalized by a man; mythic figures on a finely-detailed scale with just enough mortal observations to press home the fact that this family circle cannot stay intact, forever. The same charge could be laid at the BPT/BCT production, itself --- will next year’s production be as good as this spanking new one, and the one after that, and the one after that? Why risk future disappointment when you can see this CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES, now, in sheer perfection?”

Take heart and count your blessings: even with three new cast-members, this year’s WALES is every bit as golden as last year’s as if Mr. Burgess had carefully packed up his actors along with costumes, props and scenery in 2009 and just as carefully put everything back on display, still shiny and fresh, and why shouldn’t WALES’ perfection continue to triumph when love clearly glows from the script, the direction and the performances? This Christmas season may be even gloomier than last year’s, but the Thomas household at the BCA remains sweet, uplifting and true --- it certainly perked up my own spirits --- and to think that Oscar Wilde wrote that all art is useless.

"A Child’s Christmas in Wales" (3-23 December)
BCA Plaza Theatre, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide