Here be a Dragon: Snow Dragon comes to the Gulbenkian

There’s magic, songs, dancing and lots of opportunities for the audience to get involved in the Snow Dragon, which is currently playing at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury. In an animal kingdom where animals wait for New Year’s Eve to be given a present by whichever Snow character they believe in, Billy the goat finds himself out collecting berries on the night to leave out for the Snow Dragon – but the chance to make mischief with two friends means Billy ends up with no berries, and nothing to leave out for the Snow Dragon: will he get a present ?

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There’s a strong moral perspective to the tale, with taking care of others the message at the heart of the show. It’s presented in a way that children are able to understand, with a recap of what’s happened underlining the point towards the end. Best of all, though, there is lots of audience participation, with a packed theatre enthusiastically joining in with songs and warning Billy to look of for wolves.

Whilst it is tremendous fun for children, there are some knowing asides for the parental figures among the audience, in particular a blink-and-you-miss-it moment where Billy’s mum and dad hurriedly ask each other if it they were the one to leave a present out for Billy on New Year’s Eve (we’ve all been there!)

For all the leaping around, and the singing and dancing, the moment towards the end of the show where the Snow Dragon appears is wonderfully realised – I won’t spoil the moment by saying how – but it is achieved with real poetry, and for a moment, a touch of magic hangs in the air. The hour-long show is fuelled by the energy of the three performers, diving behind the scenes to present a wealth of characters throughout the story.

The intimacy of the Gulbenkian Theatre is ideally suited to the show, where you always feel involved in what’s happening on the stage; in a neat touch, the walls of the auditorium have been decorated with white trees, making the scenery spread out to encompass the audience. There’s even a surprise in store right at the end for some of the audience who might be sitting in the centre block…

The production plays at the Gulbenkian until Sunday 23 December; find out more online here; enter the magical world of the Snow Dragon for yourself…

Reviewed by Tom O’Bedlam

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