If you want to see a show about a big, fluffy, green dragon being slayed by a hero, then this is not for you. If you want to see a new play by Rory Mullarkey, that manages to portray the basic flaws of society with a theme of good/evil and nationalism all done in a heartfelt and funny manner, then stay tuned. Saint George and the Dragon at the National Theatre manages to do just that and more.
Immediately the fourth wall is broken down when George, played brilliantly by John Heffernan, enters as the announcer and sets the tone, talking to the audience in rhymes in a proper fairytale like manner. We soon reestablish the wall, as Heffernan embraces his role as George. The audience loved him from the moment they saw him and our love for him only grew as he slays his way through the story. I would say I couldn’t take my eyes of him but his co-stars were putting up a fight until the bitter end (literally). A round of applause must go to Julian Bleach, the Dragon, who embodied the monster in an animalistic, yet gracious way.
Even before the actors managed to blow us away, we were taken aback by the incredible set. The use of the revolving stage and how it attached to the rest of the set, was mind-blowing and the scene changes were so smooth because of it. They used the set in perfect unison with the visual effects, and it made us all believe in magic for the night. Both the designer (Rae Smith) and the lighting designer (Bruno Poet) have previously worked on shows that have won Olivier awards, and it shows!
There were a few moments where it could have been a tiny bit tighter in terms of delivery of lines and movements. But given that the show has only just opened, I am convinced that it will only improve and considering this is the only ‘non-brilliant’ observation, I’d say it’s pretty great.
Saint George takes us on a time travel and it’s all fun and games, until we end up right in modern civilisation and the brilliant ‘boy’, Lewin Lloyd, brutally puts us face to face with everything that is wrong with our society. A few good things were shown as well, the introduction of feminism was a personal favourite.
My mouth was wide open towards the end of the show, after having laughed through the night with the rest of the audience, so it’s a huge recommendation from me. It’s a perfect time to see a show like this, with everything going on in the world – I’d suggests that we sometimes need a hero to slay our dragons and I would be happy to take John Heffernan as ours!
Saint George and the Dragon is on at the national theatre from the 4th of October till the 2nd of December. It is part of the National Theatre’s Travelex season, so tickets direct from the box office are just £15.
The show is not on everyday, so check nationaltheatre.co.uk for tickets and availability.
Reviewed by Yasmin Simsek.