The fast-moving, spectacular and vividly colourful production of ‘The Dragon’ at The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Â watched by a crowded audience of children and adults,Â wasÂ absolutely compelling. How can a play, vivid, sometimes scary yet so real, be performed without the use of speech by the actors?
‘The Dragon’ is a study inÂ whether or not a dragon is evil. Â The concept differs from country to country, but generally, dragons are considered to be scary, evil monsters wreaking havoc and destruction and needing to be slain.
Vox Motus, the Scottish theatre company intended to experiment in telling a universal story without using words, but with fabulous images and acting, crossing barriers between ages and cultures. The National Theatre of Scotland and the National Theatre of China, apparently unknown to each other on this subject, had been thinking along the same lines. Call it serendipity, or coincidence what happened next was the production as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.
The actors and technical teams seamlessly give the spellbound audience a truly unique, if sometimes difficult to believe, race through the traumas of ‘growing up’ and a family riven with grief following the death of a young boy’s mother. The dragon proves to be both a help and hindrance as far as coping and moving forward for the boy, his father and other family members.
It would be invidious to praise any one member of the cast – in which I include the technical teams -over anyone else. However, the writer of the play shows a deep understanding of humanity; in the programme introduction, Oliver Emmanuel, writes movingly of the pain and isolation and anger of grief, ‘the unexpected death of a parent, or anyone you love, fractures the world. Reality shifts. The things you took for granted – like gravity even – come unstuck’. How true.
The brief run ends on Sunday 16 August, with performances at 12 noon and 4 pm. I am so glad, personally, to have been able to see this work for myself.