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Here be Dragons

Herald Critic Mary Brennan introduces Dragon; a story for adults, teenagers and children with vivid imaginations.

Dragons! Fire-breathing, treasure-guarding, supernatural, scary. In the West, we grow up with images of dragons as monsters that loom out of legend to threaten helpless villages, or beautiful princesses – we make heroes, even a saint, out of the dragon-slayers we read about in stories.

In China, however, they see dragons in a completely different light. In Chinese culture, a dragon symbolises deity, power and strength – if these dragons befriended you, and you were battling with all kinds of personal demons... maybe the dragons would slay the demons and free YOU from the grip of unspoken fears and griefs. In fact, those dragons came to the rescue of Glasgow-based company, Vox Motus.

For months, the creative team had been puzzling over how to tell the story of a teenage boy, Tommy, who becomes totally locked away inside himself when his mother dies. The show had to be highly visual, strikingly theatrical – and, like Tommy himself, devoid of words. Enter the dragons! When Vox Motus joined collaborative forces with Tianjin Children’s Art Theatre (China) the whole project became an adventure in cross-cultural innovation. Skills were shared alongside ideas, and puppets – wonderful, detailed dragons of varying sizes – came into play like physical manifestations of Tommy’s moods and inner turmoils. On-stage, Dragon unfolds with the impact and clarity of a genuinely exciting, potently moving graphic novel, wordless but easily followed by young or old thanks to the expressive performances and telling designs.  In a word: magic! 

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