A new piece of writing from Nottingham New Theatre, Chasing Dragons takes its themes of madness, fantasy and reality and creates a poignant and moving piece of theatre which shows us monsters really do exist.
Everybody knows best-selling fantasy author Edward is mentally unstable: his sister Jane, returning from aid work in Rwanda; his concerned psychiatrist; and not least Edward himself.
But, with an arrogant opinion of his own genius, he doesn’t care: preferring to retreat into his imagined world inside his head, where his creations view him as a deity possessing absolute, dispassionate power. Until things start to break – the lines between fantasy and reality blur out of vision; and Edward’s own imaginary characters begin to denounce their master with the same scorn he himself shows to his sister’s belief in Christianity.
It’s to the writer’s credit that all of this Gaimanesque-style tale is fitted into 45 minutes, without losing the symmetry of the narrative or the arc of the protagonist’s journey. Themes in the ‘real world’ are reflected in their fantasy mirror and any risk of melodrama or heavy-handedness which could have clogged up the pages of this particular fantasy are deftly avoided via clear and dynamic direction.
Coping well with a small space and a limited set, New Theatre successfully manage to convey the parallel universes of the piece through use of lighting, costume and sound design – not to mention the impressive appearance of the dragon itself.
Acting is commendable, particularly from the actor playing Edward, whose emotional changes throughout the piece are subtly and convincingly portrayed. Equally, a measured performance from his sister Jane serves as the basis for Chasing Dragons’ pivotal moment: where Edward realises the only fantasy is his own pursuit of perfection.
New student writing is at the heart of the Fringe: New Theatre help keep this heart beating with a gripping and satisfyingly complete piece of theatre which shows emerging young talent is anything but a fantasy.
Chasing Dragons runs from 5-28 Aug (not 15) at C soco at 13:05 (13:50) – more details here