City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Dragon, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 01 November 2013

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Vox Motus, National Theatre of Scotland and the Tianjin People's Art Theatre, China
Oliver Emanuel (writer), Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison (directors), Jamie Harrison (designer), Jamie Harrison and Guy Bishop (puppet designers), Tim Phillips (composer) Simon Wilkinson (lighting designer), Mark Melville (sound designer)
Martin McCormick (Dad), Joanne McGuiness (Susie), Scott Miller (Tommy), Adura Onashile (Vanessa), Gavin John Wright (David Hogan), Zhang Kai (Ben Laing), Tao Yan (Alison Brodie)
Running time: 

Somehow, we easily forget how terrifying being a teenager was at times; ‘Dragon’ is a wise reminder of those experiences.

Almost a play without words, this piece of highly physical theatre bowls us along through the days and scary nights of Tommy (Scott Miller), a teenage boy troubled by bullies, his (presumably widowed/divorced) Dad (Martin McCormick) developing a relationship with neighbour Vanessa (Adura Onashile), his own dawning sexual awareness, and a series of increasingly scary dragons.

These monsters of Tommy’s mind, wonderfully and fearfully made by designer Guy Bishop and operated by the cast sometimes threaten to become the stars of the show, and undeniably contribute much to the action, but ‘Dragon’ is a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece of theatre which rises well beyond these remarkable creations.

‘Dragon’ is about people; their attempts to relate, their failures in doing so, the anxieties, aggression and barely articulate stumblings toward becoming an adult in a particular social setting. Tommy is any teenage boy seeking affirmation and connection and frequently failing to recognise it when he sees it.

It’s a hard road for anyone to travel, but for good or ill (and sometimes it’s none too clear) Tommy is followed every step of the way by the dragons of his imagination.

In addition to the afore-mentioned dragons, this is a production rich in design detail and inventive physicality, the one complementing the other to provide a theatrical experience in which words are (almost) superfluous. Jamie Harrison’s design concepts combine with Simon Wilkinson’s lighting to give us moments reminiscent of animation and the graphic novel, which are entirely in sympathy with the spirit of the production.

It was encouraging to discover that the performance had a significantly youthful age profile. Although one might suspect (perhaps wrongly) the iron hand of institutional education cunningly disguised in a velvet glove, the enthusiastic response of this audience was clearly genuine and fully deserved by the cast and entire Vox Motus company.

Show times

Til 2 Nov 2013, 7.30pm

Tickets £15.50/£12.50/£8 unemployed, disabled /£6 schools