Christine Kempell thinks Caitlin Thomas needs her story to be told. We found out why.

Arriving at Brighton Fringe for the first time is Caitlin. Raucous, outrageous, regularly drunk and yet also talented and wildly underappreciated, Caitlin made her name... but only as Dylan Thomas' wife. Christine Kempell, star of this one woman show, tells us more about this wild child of the 1930's.

I will not be drinking copious amounts of whisky that's for sure!

Tell us a little about your show, Caitlin.

Caitlin is a one-woman play by Mike Kenny about Dylan Thomas and his wife's tempestuous life together, written entirely from her point of view. He was a wonderful poet and she was a talented dancer, but while his career soared, her's failed to reach the heights she always felt it should have. She describes their first romantic meeting in a pub in Soho, and charts their lives together through poverty, alcoholism, children, the War and infidelities on both sides to his untimely death in New York at the age of 39.

What interested you most about Caitlin Macnamara Thomas?

I actually saw the play performed a few years ago and thought at the time that Caitlin was a challenge I may be prepared to undertake at some point! It's written for an older woman and unfortunately meaty roles for older women are not that easy to find, so this is a gift. I am Welsh and lived a few miles from Laugharne so I've been brought up to feel very proud of Dylan Thomas and his achievements. I was in a production of Under Milk Wood and love the characters he describes and the language he uses in the play. It was only later that I discovered Caitlin and her story when I read Leftover Life To Kill.

How do you get into character when playing Caitlin?

Well, I will not be drinking copious amounts of whisky that's for sure! Not until after opening night anyway.

Many brilliant women successful in their own right are still defined by their husbands by the media today, such as Amal Clooney. What do you think we still need to do to make this change?

Unfortunately, women on the whole still have to put a pause on their careers for the sake of their partners, especially when they are bringing up a family, but when their achievements are equal to or exceed their husband's we need to champion these achievements and tell their stories. George gets enough attention anyway.

Caitlin was known as a rebel and a bohemian. Do you see any of Caitlin in yourself?

I see a lot of Caitlin in myself. I have done my share of rebelling in the past and I love dancing and music and the occasional G and T! My career has also taken a back seat for a number of years due to the restrictions of family life added with the complication of moving countries. And I don't mean from Wales to England.

What are the challenges of performing in a one woman show?

Learning the lines and not having a rest backstage while someone else talks.

Is there anything you're excited to see this Brighton Fringe?

There are so many things I want to see. I have my eye on One Woman Alien, Space Doctor and After. Plus hanging out in the Speigeltent.

If Caitlin came to Brighton today, where do you think she would frequent?

I think she'd like the Neptune in Hove and Paris House. Or maybe that's just me. I think we'd have a lot in common.

See Caitlin make her Brighton Fringe debut at the Rialto Theatre (13th-16th May, 20:00).

Related Listings



Before the poet Dylan Thomas drank himself to death at the age of 39, he and his wife Caitlin binged and brawled their way all around the bars of Britain in the 1930s and 40s. In this one-woman show, Caitlin tells the story in her own brutally honest words, about her stormy but passionate, booze-fuelled and infidelity-riddled marriage to the tragic genius and her own unfulfilled ambitions... 

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