It's clear that Bria McCarthy has had an interest in dragons since before Game of Thrones made them cool again. In Dragon Hearts, McCarthy tells us the stories of various dragons through time using shadow puppetry along with some other creative forms and styles but unfortunately this production falls short of effective storytelling.
There are a few
stagecraft issues, one of the more obvious ones being the sightlines. Unless
you sit in the front row or the front row of the high chairs, it is difficult
to see the text that is displayed on the screen with the obstruction of the heads of people seated
in front of you. The music is unaffecting and quite repetitive and it does little
to support the emotional depth of the scenes that McCarthy hopes to instil.
There is a strong need for a dramaturgical eye to finesse these stories and
allow audiences with limited or next to no knowledge of the tales to be swept
away on the journey intended for us.
Dragon Hearts is most visually engaging when we have the beautifully designed and detailed puppets being maneuvered to create the moving story and while McCarthy shows skill in this, she would benefit from having someone else to minimise her hands and body from obscuring the light and the puppets. Her use of coloured oils and paper to break the black and white images of the puppetry offer a moment of difference and surprise to her audience.
put her heart and soul in this production but consideration is needed for what
the people on the other side of the screen are seeing and experiencing. There
are undoubtedly many unheard stories to be told around dragons that would be
fascinating to hear, but a rethink on how these are shared is needed.
Dragon Hearts was performed at Trades Hall 4 - 8 October.
Image Credit: Geneva Valek