National Theatre, London – until 2 December 2017
The National Theatre’s current production of Saint George and the Dragon is a modern and ambitious twist on the traditional folk tale of Saint George the dragon-slayer. Described as “a folk tale for an uneasy nation” this production time travels from the medieval times all the way to the current day and questions whether England is losing it’s traditional values and whether change is always positive. Rory Mullarkey‘s play has faults and drags a little but its interesting and humourous throughout and works extremely well in the space of the Olivier theatre.
As George himself, John Heffernan is Shakespearean, larger than life, witty and charming- perfect for the role. A particularly funny moment is when he disguises himself as ‘Ian’ in the 2017 world, raising the question of how much we’re willing to change to fit in. The character is interesting because as those around him change, he stays the same and becomes somewhat innocent in nature. This transition from the bold hero, to almost childlike is an interesting watch and the idea that distant ‘heros’ aren’t always what the world needs is especially relevant now when it’s being revealed that many Hollywood idol’s are not the people we should be looking up to at all.
Julian Bleach is the perfect contrast as the sinister but witty Dragon; his portrayal is fantastically strong and gave me major child-catcher vibes in the second act. As the feisty, voice of reason heroine Elsa, Amaka Okafor is brilliantly cast.
This show wouldn’t be what it is without Rae Smith’s outstanding set design which transitions along with the characters seamlessly and adds a simple but strong dimension to the play.
Overall I don’t think this play will be to everyone’s taste and it could certainly be trimmed down for a smoother flow but it’s definitely interesting and I enjoy how it raises some important and relevant questions whilst still remaining humourous. Its genuinely funny and entertaining and Rory Mullarkey has done a great job of reinventing a traditional tale.