Dylan Thomas originally intended this work to be radio play. However, my first experience of it was seeing the film adaptation narrated by Richard Burton, back when I was in high school in the 1970s. I remember two things about the experience: loving the sound of Richard Burton's voice, and feeling overwhelmed. This extract from the review in the New York Times goes some way to explaining my reaction:
Too many words, perhaps, for the stage. Too many words, I'm convinced, for the screen. It's not simply the quantity of words, though. It's also their ornateness. They overflow the ears and get into the eyes. Great clouds of them everywhere, like swarms of big soft gnats. They won't stop, and they make the job of the film adapter almost impossible.
Since then I've read the play and seen at least one stage production. However, it took until today, when I saw this production by the Sydney Theatre Company that I came to fully appreciate not just the magic of Thomas' words, but the fact that a stage production really can work. The production was wonderful and the words are still racing around inside my head.
A few years ago, my daughter recited these lines from the play at the wedding of her best friend to a Welsh boy. This is what Mr Edwards says to Miss Price:
I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.
Wonderful, wonderful writing. The great clouds of words no longer overwhelm me. They transport me.