A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES A new tradition for Auburn
Review by Tom Woods, Special to the Citizen Grade: A When I wrote last year that I hoped the Auburn Public Theater would make “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” an annual event, I thought perhaps that its creators would allow the theater to mount the play on its own. I didn’t expect Polly Hogan and Ron Ritchell to bring it back themselves. Hogan and Ritchell, together with APT co-founder Carey Eidel and local actor Dave Tobin, are reunited for another round of the play running this December the downtown theater.
For those who missed this extraordinary event last year, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” is an adaptation by Hogan taken from the writings of Dylan Thomas. Her script is absolutely marvelous, weaving Thomas’ poetry and narrative together brilliantly and creating a work that is evocative and emotive. The unusual effect of this play is not that it takes you back so vividly to the Swansea Christmases of Thomas’ youth, but to your own. The performances are just as good as the material, with Hogan and Ritchell in a variety of roles and Tobin and Eidel as Thomas and his friend Jim at a variety of ages.
Ritchell is superb in every detail, particularly effective opening and closing the show with Thomas’ poetry. Hogan is a joy as an assortment of mothers, aunts and spinsters, all clearly delineated and unique, each familiar and redolent. Eidel is masterful as Jim, delivering a detailed and consistent performance, using traits of the boy to inform the actions of the man. Whether hunting cats in the snow or passing judgment on his fellow villagers he is completely believable. Tobin tightens what was a good performance last year, finding more detail and comfort as Thomas. He, too, uses the youngster to help create the man but has the additional burden of commentator. His transitions between narration and character are much smoother now, and his work throughout is more confident and seamless.
The technical aspects of the production show improvement as well. There is more and better lighting and some additions to the set that help both the look and the flow.There is nothing objectionable for families, but some of the material may not hold the attention of very young children.
Artistic Producing Director: Angela Daddabbo
Managing Director/Rentals: Carey Eidel