Roolting around in the creative bouillabaisse of Kevin Allen's back catalogue; it’s hard not to gasp at the exceptional melange and the sheer diversity of a Welshman who definitely knows his cockles from his laver bread.
A submariner’s youngest son, Allen was brought up in England, Malta and Singaore before settling in his mother’s homeland, Wales, at the age of 10. Having cut his directorial teeth as the inaugural BBC video diarist reporting the insane world of football hooligans at Italia 90 - his classic documentary On the March with Bobby’s Army was the first of a collection of unique video films - before unleashing his first pean to Wales, his debut, Bafta nominated cult feature film Twin Town - deemed to be magnificent, distasteful, authentic, inspirational and terrifying in equal measures. Allen then leapt, gazelle like, to the Los Angeles’ call, directing Warner Bros’ satirical hairdressing gem The Big Tease before departing on a year long motorhome odyssy, researching and writing a commissioned studio film about elderly Viagra dealers in the deep American South... that somehow never got made.
Los Angeles was indeed a strange and surreal base for the boy from Swansea, and having wooed his glorious bride, Laura Madden, to a stunning marriage ceremony in the sizzling Death Valley desert, Allen decided to cash in his hard earned Hollywood chips and helm MGM’s big budget kids action adventure flick, Agent Cody Banks, before riding off to deepest rural Ireland to build an exquisite timber home from which they would rear their 4 young children and breed a large herd of Saddle Back pigs.
Comfortably interned in Kavannagh’s ‘Stony Grey Soil’ of County Monaghan, Allen then responded to the shift of tectonic plates and the smattering of fairy dust which created with ‘Butcher Boy’ author and like minded rapscallion, Pat McCabe, the sublime and infamous Flat Lake Literary & Arts Festival. Replete with the late laureate, Seamus Heaney, and a magnificent role call of literary giants in a circus-tentedborderland field, The Flat Lake was considered by those lucky enough to attend, to be the most perfect,intellectual and wildly beautiful festivals in the UK & Ireland. Somewhat fed up with the spectre of insolvency and three relentlessly wet summers, Allen left his tractor to Flamenco off to Spain where he set up and directed the first cheesy hit series of Benidorm for ITV, recieveing a Bafta nomination and three tons of premium pig feed for his trouble.
However, by virtue of the catastrophic financial crash of Celtic Tiger Ireland and the price of pig nuts going through the roof, making his dazzling pork sausages was no longer sustainable for his young family, thus sending Allen back to the movie coalface once more. After sharpening his veiwfinder on The Ballad of Honky McSuaine – “a sort of micro budget Irish Wicker Man with PVC windows” - the Allen family recently relocated to his home town, Swansea, where he set up fFatti fFilms to produce and direct award-winning Y Syrcas – an enchanting Welsh language family feature for S4C set in 1850’s Calvanist Mid Wales, where directing two Afican elephants only lightly challenged his directorial technique.
This unique journey with Hollywood ‘n Hooligans, Poets ‘n Pig Farmers, perhaps provided the perfect groundwork then for his ultimate love letter to Wales, and the lush, sexy, carnal creation that is Under Milk Wood.
Barnstorming and raunchy, ushered in by Verdi and a Welsh male voice choir, this utterly beautiful vision of Dylan Thomas' seminal offering of magical prose poetry sees ‘Allen the film director’ at his outrageous best. Think Peter Cook, mixed with a soupcon of Ken Russell, a dash of Fellini and a pinch of Peter Greenaway.
But actually, then don't. Because there is no one quite like him.