Theatre review: Dragon (Citizens Theatre)

editorial image

Occasionally a piece of theatre emerges which transcends the medium - attracting audience members otherwise immune to the charms of the stage.

The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) achieved this rare feat once before - with the international hit Black Watch.

With Dragon - a co-production between NTS, Glasgow-based theatre company Vox Motus and China’s Tianjin People’s Arts Theatre - they may have just repeated the trick.

The (nearly) dialogue-free performance tells the story of Tommy, a young boy whose mother has recently died.

His journey through loss and grief is documented through his relationship with a dragon. The mythological (and metaphorical) beast initially protects him, but through time becomes ever more solipsistic and destructive - threatening his relationship with his family and friends.

All this is portrayed with am ingenious mixture of puppetry and physical theatre, accompanied by a stunning Eastern-infused score by Tim Phillips.

Everything blends seamlessly, the complex sets whirring by with balletic precision and held together by a uniformly excellent cast, led by the flawless Scott Miller as Tommy. The wordlessness adds emotional heft, particularly in the heart-wrenching scenes between Tommy and his father.

Then there are the dragons - a series of ever-more-impressive puppets which seem to erupt, hatch and unfold from everyday objects.

A scene where one of the critters unfurls from a rooftop is the single most beautiful thing you are likely to see at the theatre this year.

A spectacular work that shoudn’t be missed.