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Dan Wood - Lighthouse Theatre - Return Journey 5 Return Journey - Lighthouse Theatre. Photograph: Dan Wood

As Lighthouse Theatre re-enact Dylan Thomas radio Play Return Journey in a promenade performance that crosses the memory streets of Swansea in 1941 after a three-day blitz that s left itrazed to the snow , Rudi O Neil (words) and Dan Wood (photography) follow the parade.

At the Dylan Thomas Centre I m greeted by a woman smoking outside whose trouser leg is caught in the cuff of a SpongeBob SquarePants sock, and whose depth of knowledge concerning Dylan borders on Aspergian. Once inside she retakes her post at the info desk and hands me a programme for the ensuing entertainment that s been black & white photocopied.

Some have been told to meet here, at the visitor centre, others at the Waterfront Museum, which seems to be for no other reason than mismanagement. However, as we round the corner opposite Salubrious Place, four apparitions make for us as though having harnessed the powers of the alleyway time machine in Nicholas Lyndhurst s Goodnight Sweetheart, only gaining full opacity when they reach our sides.

 Dan Wood Return Journey - Lighthouse Theatre Photograph: Dan Wood

But it s half ten on a Sunday, and in the midst of a subdued Swansea central (that, save for its renown mendicant fraternity seems for the most part keen on its bed), a pub door gets kicked and wedged open revealing a stench of stale revelling that could quite adequately be a fitting olfactory enhancement to anything marking the centenary of Dylan Thomas s birth.

We are in the hands of five of the Lighthouse Theatre s finest. Clad in the garb of yesteryear, they might as well have on Hollister and Superdry, such is the meagre impact their raiment of yore seems to be having on passers-by. Still, at least this serves to nullify any of the by-proxy embarrassment that can come as the consequence of being a party to twee re-enactments.

And so the re-enactment, billed as not just a re-enactment butan info-tour , transitions from the latter to the former and casts aside any notion that the old clothes are otiose, as man-megalith, Kevin Johns (of High Hopes and The Market fame) deceptively hops from bench to bin to his stage atop the Bath brick of Bo Nash s Swansea s Castle Square amphitheatre, booming aloud the opening lines of Return Journey.

As a lone performer he is grand, but his words lack impact, as they dissipate into the indifferent ears of a now busying town centre. Save for two young lovers that have turned up to have a nose, or maybe to invest their time in something free, the performance seems inaudible and invisible to all bar those who ve paid. The next ninety minutes seem set to become a struggle.

An interlude returns us to the mundanity of the seemingly Wiki-clipped info-tour (did Dylan Thomas actually drink in The Tenby?), before Adrian Metcalfe, Nia Trussler-Jones and once again Kevin Johns, launch into a peppy recital of Dylan as third person, diminutively character-assassinated with brutally humorous (self) deprecation by these three scoffers he d chanced upon whilst navigating his Return Journey.Surprisingly, not even one member of a teenage trine who stop to sneer lends as much as a perfunctory piss-take. And then it dawns on me, as I pull myself fully out of suspended disbelief this just got good.

After being forewarned of Swansea s nuanced road system by Adrian, who subsequently dodges getting mowed down by an azure Corsa with a Polish number plate, we cross the road and make our way further towards Dylan s childhood home, Swansea s Uplands, and to his childhood haunt, Cwmdonkin Park.

At this point we finally attract notable attention. A homeless man drinking Gold Label hollers across the street saying he d love to come join us, but that he doesn t have the time; a pity, for if he d stuck around he d have witnessed the frightening pulchritude of Kate Elis who, alongside Edward Llewellyn in his dead Dylan tweed, poignantly ponders over the clandestine doings of the Kardomah Gang.

And then, interrupting an astonishing stream of consciousness barking masterpiece by Elis, a walleyed rapscallion, accompanied by the clinking alloy of his rucksack, yaws and murmurs his way through us, undoubtedly using his breath s hypertoxic scent of rubbing alcohol as a divining rod to lead him to the next abandominium.

And so onward we tread, now within sight of Cwmdonkin Park, taking a brief moment to stand among the nearby Grove where a young Martin Amis played with polysyllables whilst his dad and Dylan traded insults.

And that was it, one last and bucolic recital at the Return Journey s end, Cwmdonkin Park, before our apparitions said their thanks, their goodbyes, and faded back into Swansea s past.

Lighthouse Theatre - Return Journey. Image Dan Wood Lighthouse Theatre - Return Journey. Photograph: Dan Wood

As I make my way back along my own return journey, flatulently weaving my way down homographic Wind Street, a familiar face walks towards me, and as we near one another, recognition becomes clear. It s none other than Georgihka from BBC One s Swansea: Living on the Streets.

He has a can of pear cider in his hand, and smiles coyly back at me, probably tired of being recognised by strangers, waiting for me to accost him. I don t, but only because at that exact second it dawns on me: the homeless guy, the yawing rapscallion, and now Georgihka - the spirit of Dylan Thomas has been with us all along.

Lighthouse Theatre will be performing Return Journey on 06 and 07 September

Starting at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea at 10.30am


This review with more images by Dan Wood, appears in CCQ issue 4