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A Poet in New York (2014)

A look at Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's fatal visit to New York City, and his stormy relationship with his wife Caitlin.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Dylan Thomas
... Liz Reitell
... John Malcolm Brinnin
Celt Llewelyn Jones ... Young Dylan
Jamie Ballard ... Jerry Hart
... Dr. Milton Feltenstein
... Sylvie
Naomi Everson ... Rollie McKenna
... Longshoreman
... Caitlin Thomas
Robert Blythe ... Dylan's Dad
... Dylan's Mum
Nansi Rhys Adams ... Aeronwy Thomas
Robbie Lester ... Roy Poole
... Nancy Wickwire
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Storyline

In 1953 poet Dylan Thomas arrives in New York with his assistant and lover Liz Reitell to embark upon a tour of poetry readings, ending up in California where he hopes to meet Stravinsky. He is perpetually drunk, almost missing meetings, throwing up and taking a paranoid view of his long-suffering agent John Brinnin, whom he accuses of trying to defraud him. Whilst staying at the Chelsea hotel he recalls his upbringing in Wales, his affectionate exchange with his proud, ailing father - the inspiration for the poem 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' - and his time with his wife Caitlin and daughter Aeronwy, as he writes ' Under Milk Wood'. Whilst he patches things up with John, his infidelity to both wife and mistress angers Liz and his excessive drinking ensures that he never gets to meet Stravinsky or survive beyond another few months. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Biography | Drama

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18 May 2014 (UK)  »

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Strong Performances Highlight This Dylan Thomas Bio
22 December 2014 | by See all my reviews

It is surely difficult to encompass the life of anyone in little more than an hour. This bio-drama concentrates on the last days of Dylan Thomas, with flashbacks to his youth and happier days. The result is a successful arc of the man's life, ultimately disappointing as it was.

Thomas was an intemperate boor haunted by past failures and as unhealthy fear of an unpromising future as this dramatization tells it. Certainly most of it is true.

So many literary luminaries are self-destructive and personally disappointing. That one more does not stand as an icon to strength of character is no revelation, but it does give an alternate view of Thomas' works. Long after "Fern Hill", he goes to America not to anoint the masses, but to escape the prison of his marriage. And "Do Not Go Gently into that Good Night" becomes less a passionately strong urging to remain steadfast and more a pitiful pleading to not be abandoned. But meaning, like beauty, is in the eye or ear of the beholder.

Tom Hollander gives a strong performance as the poet and he is surrounded by a corps of captivating actors. New York City in 1953 comes alive and provides an appropriate backdrop for the poets downfall. What started as a green and golden existence dies among the figurative gray ash heaps of Eliot's 20th century, perhaps too innocent and too frail to survive in a world of ragged claws.


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