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Chasing Dragons
Published on Thursday, 25 August 2011

2 stars

C venues - C soco (venue website)
3-14, 16-29 Aug, 1:05pm-1:55pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

 Parental Guidance. Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

A bestselling fantasy author suffering from schizophrenia is caught between the real world and the one of his novels. As his characters fight over the morality of dragon killing, he begins to question his own part in his creation, and his sister returns from missionary work in the midst of a crisis of faith to care for him.

Adam H. Wells’ script has ambitious intentions, but ultimately overreaches. Attempting to squeeze too many themes into the plot, it fails to deal effectively with any of them – the treatment of mental illness and psychiatry seeming particularly under-researched.

The dialogue doesn’t really ring true, with the real-world sections feeling stilted and overly stagy. The premise that Edward is a critically acclaimed author also falls down in the face of his rather uninspiring fantasy world. The language of the two worlds is indistinct, with no marked differences between the speech of Edward’s psychiatrist, and the knight and witch of his imagination.

Conversely, dividing the staging of hallucination and domestic scenes with clear blackouts means the two worlds rarely overlap in the space. This separation fails to take advantage of the many opportunities to illustrate the increasing intensity of Edward’s delusions with a thinning distinction between reality and fantasy. 

The actors give enthusiastic performances, and do a good job of injecting some energy into the dialogue, but cannot overcome its constraints. Primarily constructed of short speeches, the script could benefit from some editing, and further development could aim to craft a more dynamic structure.

Chasing Dragons aims high, but can’t quite deliver. There are some interesting ideas, but the unfortunate lack of subtlety in the language, and the script’s rather unvaried pace, makes for a somewhat lacklustre tale. 

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