Edinburgh Festival Fringe children’s show review: The Last of the Dragons, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kelly Apter
The idea of a damsel in distress being rescued by a handsome man has been around for so long, we hardly notice it’s there. Which is exactly why it’s so damaging as a stereotype. So hurrah for Manhattan Children’s Theatre for joining a burgeoning list of storytellers re-dressing the balance.
Instead of the prince rescuing the princess in their funny and energetic new show, she’s the one who comes to his aid. Of course Edith Nesbit, who wrote the original story, was championing strong females back in 1925 – but nothing endures like a stereotype.
Director, Laura Stevens launched her company in New York in 2002, but having moved to Edinburgh last year, she’s now using the brand over here.
A talented all-British cast turn Nesbit’s story (adapted by Kristin Walter) into a veritable romp.
With a nod to Shakespeare and French farce, the show is as much a romance as an adventure story – although never stumbling into the “sloppy” territory.
On the eve of her 16th birthday, the Princess gets ready to meet her betrothed. Before he can marry her, however, the Prince needs to slay a dragon and untie his howling bride-to-be from a rock. Only trouble is, when it comes to sword smithery, she’s Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, and he’s Piglet from Winnie the Pooh.
The Prince’s nervousness is never over-played, however, which is an important point. He has other admirable qualities, proving that empowering the female in a narrative doesn’t mean you have to diminish the male.
In a strong cast, special mention goes to Tom Duncan as the suave Valet, who manages to keep the Prince in check with one hand, and woo the Nurse with the other.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 10 August 2015
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