Drawing: The Dragon at Southwark Theatre

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The Tangram Theatre Company’s brand new take on Yevgeny Schwartz’s brilliantly funny 1943 critique of Stalinist Russia, The Dragon, is currently running at the Southwark Playhouse in London.

Led by their award winning director Daniel Goldman, their productions are described as, “joyous, exciting, messy, chaotic, irreverent, intelligent, silly, fun and surprising”. The Dragon is all of these things and more. It’s an anti-panto and wicked allegory lampooning the soviet bloc. Daniel likens it to, “The Princess Bride meets Captain America and Animal Farm“.

Adapted by Daniel and his company, who form an impressive ensemble cast that includes Anthony Best, Hannah Boyde, Justin Butcher, Jo Hartland, James Marshall, James Rowland, Peter Stickney, Stella Tyalor, Rob Witconb and Charlotte Workman. They cover all the (un)usual suspects required for this fairy tail – Lancelot, the Knight-errant and cut price superhero; a narrating feline, a pretty and innocent in-and-out-of-distress damsel, her always distressed mother, a mad mayor-cum-diabolical-dictator, his sleazy intelligence-challenged son, visiting strangers bearing gifts, a cow…. oh, yes and a three headed dragon.

I was introduced to the term ‘samizdat satire’ by one reviewer. It’s the romanticisation of a soviet form of dissident activity and the practice of evading officially imposed censorship, which was certainly the environment in which the Russian-Jewish playwright wrote this piece.

The Dragon ends on 10 January 2015.

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