Dragons and Mythical Beasts – Underbelly

Written by Derek Bond

Directed by Derek Bond and Laura Cubitt

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hear ye, hear ye, all brave knights and heroes assemble for the finest adventure of their lives! Come face to face with some of folklore’s most magnificently majestic monsters and spectacular beasts to grace the earth with their presence.

Join Dave (Ben Galpin) the hero as he embarks on the journey his father left him to achieve, to find the Indrik, a legendary creature of the forest. But he’s going to need our help, not only to find the beasts but to save him from his father’s more barbaric influences. Dave will call upon six brave adventurers to aid in securing the legendary items to summon the creature – think you have what it takes?

And some of you may recognise these local creatures, others come from far-flung lands – from giant Troll’s of stone to nature’s king the Indrik, and whisking audiences over to the Japanese Baku, Dragons and Mythical Beasts is the most magical experience within Edinburgh this year, with awe-inspiring puppets which infuse an authentic sense of wonder within audiences.

And with no intention to spoil the surprise creatures and logistics in store, the scale and detail within Max Humphries’ design work are nothing short of game-changing. From the ferocious size of the dragons to the dexterity and animated movements of George the Wyvern, the entire puppeteering team does a spectacular feat of physical strength and technique.

Derek Bond’s writing follows a clear, if simple, the narrative of fantastical origins of mystical items and legendary beasts. It’s certainly child friendly, with the occasional moment of character-building fright – but if anything could additionally lean into the troubles Dave faces in his father’s shadow. Much of the additional levels of emotion or fear are conjured up through John Maddox’s lighting, which not only aids to convey Dave’s fears, but provides additional cover for the puppeteers.

The skill and design of the creature design are nothing short of stage brilliance. It blows any projected or generated creature out of the water. The ingenuity of the puppeteers to remove themselves from the scene, and the audience sees only the beasts, not the rods or mechanics. Dragons and Mythical Beasts is undoubtedly targeted as a kid’s show, but by heavens, should be appreciated by all ages.

Stage Brilliance

Dragons and Mythical Beasts runs at Underbelly until August 21st before touring.

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