Reviewed by Kirsty Alexander
Taking Flight Theatre
Reviewed at Chapter Arts, Cardiff
Touring nationally until May
For ages 4+
It’s the Easter holidays, so of course Chapter Arts is full of excited children and their parents downing a much welcomed cuppa before Taking Flight Theatre’s anticipated You’ve Got Dragons takes to the stage. Taking Flight pride themselves on bringing highly accessible theatre to audiences of all ages, and this slice of children’s fun is definitely no exception.
As the lights dim and two Dragons emerge, the audience watch with anticipation – some a little nervous – as the brightly coloured set comes to life and Benjamina returns to her childhood to tell her story. Ben has Dragons which follow her on the bus, lurk beside her in class, and hide under her bed… The mythical creatures represent Ben’s anxiety, which she gradually tackles as time goes on – taking your dragon for walks can help! Whilst this metaphor and some of Ben’s symptoms may go over the heads of the younger audience members, this doesn’t necessarily impact their ability to enjoy the performance: the music and on stage instruments, arrival of different characters, and the quest to overcome the Dragons, keep everyone involved in the action.
With various elements performed in British Sign Language, captions on the stage screens and some audio description, the production is incredibly accessible and for me, the bright colours and bouncy music was a welcome burst of sunshine from an otherwise gloomy, rainy Cardiff evening. In the performance I watched, parents sympathised with the universal bedtime routine, and there was laughter all round as the postman swaggered across the set and the school bus came to life using spinning ribbons.
The show suffers from a slow start, and is a little chaotic at times as it tries to be all things to all people. Despite this, You’ve Got Dragons can be enjoyed by the whole family, even if they’re understanding and enjoying it on slightly different levels.
Kirsty is based in Cardiff and works in the arts. She is part of the Welsh Young Critics’ scheme, and you can read more of her reviews on her blog. Follow Kirsty @chaotickirstyy