Sunday, 16 August 2015

Dragon

Royal Lyceum Theatre
Four stars

There are fewer than ten words spoken in Vox Motus theatre company's resplendent evocation of the effects of grief after a young boy loses his mother. When they come, they're as magnificently mono-syllabic as any teenager finding their voice. There is plenty of sound and vision beyond this in the company's collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland and the Tianjin Children's Art Theatre of China, as clouds hang heavy over the stage, rumbling lowly before bursting into full-on thunderclaps as young Tommy tries to sleep.

When a street light turns into a dragon outside his window inbetween watching his ailing mother die, these mythical creatures soon start turning up everywhere, egging Tommy on like some invisible friend as he takes on the bullies at school and in the local swing-park where a girl shows him magic tricks. As Tommy's anger and confusion looks set to get the better of him, the dragons are always on his back, so at times the coupling resembles a fierier and more existentially troubled Calvin and Hobbes. And those dragons just keep on getting bigger.

First seen in 2013 when it toured internationally, Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds' production of Oliver Emanuel's near wordless script is a feat of theatrical alchemy, in which the seven-strong ensemble navigate Harrison and Guy Bishop's puppets through a busy graphic novel style world. This is illuminated by Simon Wilkinson's lighting and pulsed by composer Tim Phillips' score and Mark Melville's sound design. Beyond this, and with autumn dates in Glasgow and Dundee to follow the show's Edinburgh International Festival run, what matters is its emotional heart, as Tommy's growing pains finally lays his demons to rest.

The Herald, August 17th 2015

ends



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