Saint George and the Dragon’s an eye-opening stage experience – review

Johan Persson

A village. A dragon. A damsel in distress. Into the story walks George: wandering knight, freedom fighter, enemy of tyrants the world over. One epic battle later and a nation is born.

Saint George. Patron Saint of England; Knight of the Order and dragon slayer extraordinaire. A story entwined in the history of our nation. To many, this will be their first time experiencing it. Rory Mullarkey’s re-imagining of the ancient tale makes for an interesting spin on the original; spinning comedy together with an important message.

The story itself is one of significance –  especially in the latter parts where the “dragon” becomes a metaphor. A portrayal of the metaphorical dragon as being created by the everyday people, (a human-made evil if you will) is intensely clever. Showing that no matter how many fresh starts we get, we will always reach the same conclusion, including a trip to the 21st century is an eye-opening experience.

That said, the story itself can become quite repetitive. To hammer the point home to the audience, the cycle repeats and you’re essentially experiencing the exact same thing over and over, with very little variation except for the century. Eventually, the inventiveness of the piece is lost to lack of concentration from it’s audience.

Related: Young Frankenstein musical displays genius skills of Mel Brooks – review

John Heffernan [George] provides delightful comedic input throughout. The concept of an ancient knight, master of slaying dragons re-appearing in the 21st century provided hilarity throughout. Julian Bleach’s dulcet tones as Dragon are perfectly matched to his character. His demeanour and poise perfectly depict the evil within.

National Theatre productions are always renowned for their intricate and beautiful stage work. Lyndsey Turner’s design for Saint George is no exception. Miniature houses that are relevant to the time, coupled with a rising stage that revolves to reveal a house, are a marvellous sight. A dragon battle in the sky is also executed well, although the magic is somewhat lost when wires become visible on stage; at points interrupting the spotlight as they are prepared.

Saint George and the Dragon provides a lightly comedic take on a historic story – with added serious points to consider. Although somewhat slightly repetitive, it’s detailed and fine performances, and set that’s easy on the eye, that makes the trip to the theatre worthwhile.

Gay Times gives Saint George and the Dragon – 3/5

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