You’ve Got Dragons is the second in a three series of plays for children exploring ‘Big Issues For Little people’ was something I was really looking forward to, following our previous visit to Yana and the Yeti.
You’ve got Dragons is based on the book by Kathryn Cave (which I have since bought) the play helps to explore the increasing issue of anxiety in children through dragons, portrayed in their different forms by two hugely active and engaging artists.
Now I have to be honest and say I was a little worried when the very first scene was one which I’m sure most parents have at some point encountered, started. A bedtime racked with excuses of why the main character Benjamina wouldn’t settle had me predicting chaos at my own children’s bedtimes which are, at the point of actually going to bed, pretty settled. I needn’t have worried. The build up and portrayal of anxieties at bed time, and the fact that they are often still there the next day was, at times, poignant. As an adult who suffers, sitting next to my little boy whose noise often betrays the real feelings of fear and anxiety, the portrayal of build-up and outpouring of those feelings was excellent.
Thoughtful, simple yet visual sets, music which perfectly matched the tone and dragons which had the audience gasping and laughing in the next breath carried us along with Ben as she explored the relationship with both her dragons and her father, as he tried to understand and help her. The BSL signing and audio description which accompanied the wonderfully visual performance, including for example ribbons to portray the wheels on a moving bike, made the play accessible to all needs, with a small set available in the foyer available for children to familiarise themselves with before the performance. Everything was so carefully, inclusively planned by the Taking Flight team, children could really engage and be confident before and throughout the performance.
Most importantly, the play concluded with ways to address your dragons, acknowledging that everyone has them and making Benjamina an expert, as she adopted key ways such as naming your dragons and making them laugh.
As we left it became apparent that my daughter, a confident 4 year old, had had a great time, sitting at the front and fully immersed with a very literal understanding of what had been a lovely story. The message, that no dragon is more powerful than you, was not missed by my son however, and as he was handed a wrist band with the message printed on we talked about when he feels worried, (sadly at 7 years old, when he has to take tests at school) and how he might deal with them.
As the mental health of young people becomes an increasing concern in society I’m left with a sense that exploring feelings through theatre and stories will become key in positive role models, teaching and experiences. You’ve got dragons left us uplifted and chatting all the way home. Thank you!
NB: I was invited to attend You’ve got Dragons’ but all views and opinions are my own