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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review

That's like all the good fairies around the cradle and the one malevolent hag that levels the crooked finger that curdles the cream of the blessings, that cries across my bunting, 'If this child is going to grow up, this child is going to grow old! And sing no more!' And it fills me with rage. It fills me with rage. --- Dylan Thomas
Twenty years ago The Celtic Arts Center opened in a small space on Hollywood Boulevard with a production of Sidney Michaels' Dylan about the waning days of the meteoric Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. They celebrate their anniversary with a revival of that play, directed by Barry Lynch who originally played Dylan.

The success of this production is due both to the passionate intuition of Lynch's direction and the brilliant performance of Kevin Kearns in the title role. He doesn't really look like Dylan but he strongly resembles him.

The play follows Dylan on his last two tours of America, maddening infuriating odysseys in which he drinks away the money he desperately needs for his three children. In one wrenching moment, he touches the depths of self-loathing when he admits forgetting to send his son's school tuition, causing the boy to be not only humiliated to tears but expelled. "I'm such a failure as a human being that it's something fierce," he keens.

When the play begins, the 38-year-old Dylan is facing the pain and fearful truth that his best work is 15 years old. This may drive his drinking and prompt his intention to tour what his wife Caitlin warily calls "a country of hospitable vampires."r> Over the next two years, at the suggestion of publishing assistant and mistress, Meg Stuart, he writes a play Under Milkwood and begins a novel, Adventures in the Skin Trade. And he continues to drink himself to death.

This is a searing warts-and-all portrait of Dylan but Michaels pays him the tribute of letting him recite two of his finest poems and including a tender confessional scene at the bedside of a sleeping child. Kearns is matched blow for blow by Karen Ryan's powerful, fiery performance as Dylan's wife Caitlin, the frustrated dancer who is an equal partner in the battles of their Punch and Judy relationship. At one point she roars"Don't you know I'm the woman Dylan would be if Dylan could be a woman?"

Supported by a fine cast and the direction which never misses a beat, Dylan is a tribute not only to the poet but to the growth of the Celtic Arts Center which includes free cultural evenings of Gaelic language, dancing and music on Monday nights. br>
Playwright: Sidney Michaels
Director: Barry Lynch
Cast: Kevin Kearns (Dylan Thomas), Karen Ryan (Caitlin Thomas), Jody Carter (Reporter/Club Woman/Katherine Anne Porter), Patricia Rigney (Reporter/Elena), Austin Grehan (Reporter/Stage Manager/Minister/Doctro), Bethalyn Staples (Reporter, Miss Wonderland, Nancy), Mike LaRose (Reporter, Bartender, Ship's Officer), Robin Leabman (John Malcolm Brinnin), David Mersault (Angus Marius), Jennifer Ruckman (Meg Stuart), Deidre Moore (Annabelle), John McKenna (Mattock), Joseph Cardinale (Jay Henry)
Set Design: Dan Conroy
Lighting Design: Peter Strauss
Costume Design: Lois Tedrow
Sound Design: Reid Woodbury, Jr.
Running Time: Two and a half hours, one intermission
Running Dates: October 7 to November 13, 2005
Where: The Celtic Arts Center, 4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City, Ph: (818) 760-8322.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on October 22.

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