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About Russell

Happy Birthday, James Joyce

The Playback

Growing Up Irish

The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy's Wife

Dylan Thomas in
New York

The Adventures of
Big Daddy and
Ned Nuclear

Drama Home


Dylan Thomas in New York

At the Boat House in Laugharne, Caitlin Thomas waits for another letter from her husband in America. It never comes. In New York, Dylan has slept in his clothes again at the Chelsea Hotel. He has been awakened by a telephone call from Death, a woman in black evening attire who says they will meet later tonight. Death is on Dylan’s mind. He meets his father's frustrated ghost who accuses him of sleeping with other women. At the age of 39, in the year 1953, Dylan prepares for the premiere of Under Milk Wood at the Poetry Center. His lover and stage manager, Liz Reitell, dresses him for the day. They visit Rollie McKenna’s photographic studio in the hope that he can finish writing the last pages of Under Milk Wood right there. He promptly occupies the bathtub, eating chocolates. In the tub he tries to concentrate but his drunken nights in America have caught up with him. Finally, he produces some pages and Liz types them in the kitchen. Dylan is determined to finish the play and when they reach the Poetry Center he sits at a high-top desk on stage. While the other actors prepare for opening night, Time suddenly stops and the action freezes; the only person who is unstopped is Dylan. In lyrical, nerve-driven monologues he rifles his shattered consciousness and hallucinates Uncle Jim with the piglet, Aunt Annie, his father’s ghost, and characters from his voice play.

Written by Russell Thorburn

"The thin night has darkened, so has the applause. And I can see Uncle Jim with his piglet, my Aunt Ann, both frozen there. Mog Edwards has his arms around Myfanwy Price. The detective in the grey mackintosh is frozen writing something into his notebook. Old Smalley, Mister Smallcombe, keeper of Cwymdonkin Park, has his finger up his nose. My whole past is still as the cold earth, every tree-foot cloven in the black glad sight of hunters."

-Dylan Thomas in New York