Dylan, Seanachai Theatre Company, at Victory Gardens Theater. Sidney Michaels’s overlong, sloppy play–part of the Dylan Thomas industry it purports to critique–is nonetheless absorbing for two reasons: Thomas’s magnificent words and John Sierros’s equally magnificent embodiment of the man. Utterly mesmerizing, Sierros shows with every gesture how the poet could be a crude, self-absorbed, lecherous drunk who enchanted everyone he met. Sierros never falls into caricature or resorts to tricks even as he goes through every phase of drunkenness.
The story, such as it is, revolves around Thomas’s U.S. reading tours toward the end of his life, which spawned several love affairs but destroyed the one with his wife, Caitlin. Karen Tarjan makes this unpleasant woman not merely sympathetic but transparent, so that by the end we know precisely how their marriage distorted her personality. As Annabelle–the first mistress, hoping to notch her belt with every great poet–Kati Brazda has an arrestingly weird energy. But as Meg, the repressed librarian who succeeds Annabelle, Melissa Carlson-Joseph makes too many predictable choices, and the rest of the large cast is simply superfluous.
This is partly the writing and partly the staging: director Roger Smart seems overwhelmed by the huge ensemble, particularly when it comes to making their overlapping readings of Thomas’s work intelligible. Whenever the actors begin one of these awkward renditions, one yearns for a good production of Under Milk Wood.