Review: Slay the Dragon or Save the Dragon or Neither

Slay the Dragon or Save the Dragon or Neither
Created by Jane Yonge in collaboration with A Slightly Isolated Dog, Nathan Joe and Chris Marshal

BATS , MARCH 19 - 27

Reviewed by Sonya Stewart


REVIEW: Slay the Dragon is a work in development, with opening nights show only the second time theyve run it. Listing the accomplishments of stars and creators Jane Yonge and Nathan Joe would take half the review, but along with theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog they bring a slew of talent and experience to the table. Anyone familiar with company knows their focus is on creating connections and communities with live theatre that includes the audience.

Starting off like PowerPoint on Yonge and Joes family trees, the show feels like a uni presentation, but funnier. Both performers are born and raised in New Zealand, descended from Chinese immigrants. While in the beginning we are introduced to both, this is Janes journey, her personal story dealing with the grief of losing her mother.

Jane travels to China where she doesnt speak the languages, but the people look like her. It turns out she doesnt like Chinese food and doesnt want to be left alone. Stuck in a cycle within the small apartment where she is staying in, its cleverly depicted with cereal boxes, toilet paper, books and a can of beer.

The combined skills in writing, performance and direction shows. Theres a lot there to think on, talk about and be entertained by. The storyline isnt linear, much like grief itself and Joes poetry skills are evident throughout. There's a lot of anaphora, which creates lists and responses. Some are funny, others are heartbreaking. Its effective but does wear a bit towards the end. The repetition of the three ringed bus loop, the groundhog apartment days, the dreams of being stripped of her skin, and seeing her mother in a crowd all set the mood It culminates in catharsis and realisation for Jane, that the audience shares.

Originally conceived as a solo show by Yonge, I would have liked to hear more of Joes personal journey with grief after his step-grandfathers death. But in this story Jane is the Dragon and the core of the show. Brilliant, at times abstract, it brings together multiple forms of communication with the audience in a collage of thoughts, feelings and nightmares. More than the sum of its disconnected parts, this is a journey through identity politics, ritual and how will deal with grief.

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