Initially, we are in medieval England, the dragon a fantastical creature, complete with claws and a spiky tail (and three heads). We then move onto Victorian England, where the dragon went on to become the embodiment of capitalism. But the same story repeats itself - George slays the Dragon, goes to kiss Elsa (the damsel in distress, though with plenty of fight in her), and then gets called away by the Brotherhood to slay all the other dragons that have emerged across the world. Finally, we land up in modern day England.
During the second act, I found that the play became rather preachy. The audience was lectured on how people have become selfish and self absorbed. It became about how the dragon was inside each and every one of us and we as a nation have become bad people. Despite its annoying nature, this idea of the dragon being within us was shown very cleverly with a chase sequence. The dragon would momentarily morph into one of the other characters, only to disappear when George got close to them.
I had my 10 year old brother with me, and he absolutely loved the first half with it's laughs, the special effects, the dramatic scenes with the dragon, the set and everything else about it. It is not often that he is captivated by something at the theatre, so it was a shame that he began to lose interest in the second half. There were a number of children on the night I went. That being said, it wasn't aimed at his age group, but I felt it was a shame as well. After loving the escape to this almost fairy-tale land during the first act, I was disappointed that I was made to "identify the dragon in me" and get bogged down by such a heavy subject matter. The second half was quite unexpected in its seriousness, given that the first act was quite light-hearted, so when it did come to the intensely dramatic, serious ending, I found it almost funny.
The special effects were extraordinary, most memorably featuring the severed heads of the dragon zip wiring from the top balcony to the bottom of the stage where they promptly combusted.
The set itself was ingenious. It started off almost as a little Hobbitton, with twee country cottages, which then evolved through the ages to become workhouses and factories with working chimneys and then to modern day glass high-rise office blocks, complete with the little red lights on the corners. It is worth coming to see this production just for the set!
Despite it being quite an odd story, the acting was excellent throughout. Saint George was a particularly engaging and fun character, acted with great warmth and charisma by John Heffernan.