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Dragons and Mythical Beasts

  • Theatre, Children's
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Dragons and Mystical Beasts
Photo by Dragons and Mystical Beasts

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Spectacular puppet monsters storm the Southbank in this fun family show

This review is from Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2021.

Well, let nobody accuse the title of being misleading. This new kids’ show from the team behind 2018’s much-loved ‘Dinosaur World Live’ - currently back in town at the Wonderground FYI - does indeed feature dragons (two) and other mythical beasts (six).

Viewed totally joylessly, co-directors Derek Bond and Laura Cubitt’s show is an exercise in packing in as many puppet monstrosities as practically possible into a single hour, tied together with a charming but gossamer-thin plot about reluctant hero Dave (Ben Galpin) gearing up to slaughter his way through a selection of fabled creatures so he can use their bits to summon the fabled Indrik and become the hero his father always wanted him to be.

Such a dry description in no way prepares you for how genuinely awesome the puppets are, though. From cute little scamp George the Wyvern, to a lumbering rock troll and a vividly-striped unicorn the size of a bus, they go way beyond what you’d need to impress a crowd of tweens. The craft is astounding, from the actual physical looks of the puppets – many of which are enormous – to the skill of the teams of puppeteers animating them, with a distinct physical – and indeed, vocal – language to each beast. The puppyish George is definitely the one that’ll win the kids over fastest, but each beast has its own ultimately rather loveable personality. Particular credit must surely go to puppet designer Max Humphries, but really almost everyone involved in the whole show is on the puppet team in some way.

The story, by Bond, really is just a light-hearted way of stringing the stupendous puppets together. But that’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, and its moral about being kind to each other is nicely underscored by the absurdity of the moments when a teary Dave asks young audience members to come and off the beasts so he can complete his quest (parents can rest assured that there’s a final body count of zero).

It’s a step up from the impressive ‘Dinosaur World Live’, and hopefully Bond, Cubitt, Humphries and co will reconvene to blow our minds with a third show sometime down the line. For now, though, it’s the most visually impressive London kids’ show of the summer, and it’s on until the schools return. If you need some fantastical beasts to help you slay an afternoon then you know where to go.

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski


£14-£24. Runs 55min
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