The Dragon’s Dentist by Tom Morris, adapted from the early-reader books by John McLay & Martin Brown wowed audiences at the Mission Theatre from Monday 3rd - Friday 7th October.
The five fast-paced, colourful and hilariously acted performances were enjoyed by audience members from near and far, as old as 80 and as young as 10 months!
The show’s second night was reviewed by Philip Horton for the Bath Chronicle. Praising the talented acting and the excellent direction, he said: “a fast moving hour of fun for the kids, plus plenty of smiles for the grown-ups. A great introduction to theatre for the next generation. They will love it.”
Audience feedback from the week was excellent and theatre-goers old and new raved about the play, the actors, the special effects and the set: “Entirely age-appropriate”; “fantastic first experience for young theatre goers”; “imaginative set; great adaptation; totally convincing, I forgot I was in a theatre”; “wonderful interaction between actors and audience; a play for all the family.”
The play featured members of Next Stage and Next Stage Youth, including Hamish Row and Max Dooley who were outstanding in their respective roles as our hero Harry and his faithful horse Oats.
All adults from the highly-acclaimed Next Stage Theatre Company, from the blustering Sir Dad (George Gent) with Lady Mum (Joanna Bowman) always keeping him in order - to the evil Eric the Wizard (Richard Matthews), the bumbling Wonky Wizard (Brian Howe), and then finally the terrifying Eric the Dragon (Ren Leming) were admirably supported by talented members of Next Stage Youth - Amberley Couchman, Will Greensides, Eleanor Harris, Abi Harvey, Felicity Ingeldew, Issy Jacob, Georgia Langley, Kat Petmezas and Lily Stiles.
Part of the show’s charm was the audience participation it encouraged. As audience members arrived each night, they were greeted in the theatre’s Foyer by members of The Royal Household who showed them to their seats. On entering the auditorium the younger members of the audience were invited to polish up their sword fighting and jousting skills in some impromptu activities before the play officially began.
During the play, there were several key scenes where help was required from audience members. Each night, many excited and eager children (plus some helpful adults!) were invited up onto the stage to take part in a shield cleaning competition and to help pull the dragon’s tooth out.
The creative team behind The Dragon’s Dentist was a large one, consisting of not only Ann Ellison the Director and her stage-crew, but also the author of the books John McLay, who originally commissioned this play to be written and produced. John had joined the company for their last dress rehearsal on Sunday 2nd October and had been completely thrilled by the show.
John next enjoyed the play-version of his stories in the company of his family for the final Friday night performance, and, afterwards, congratulated Ann and the cast on a brilliant representation of his characters and their adventures.
We were also very lucky to welcome talented illustrator Martin Brown to The Mission Theatre for the opening night of The Dragon’s Dentist. Martin is the genius behind the illustrations for the Horrible Histories series, as well as being responsible for bringing all of John McLay’s characters to life.
Throughout the play, Martin’s illustrations from John’s books were projected onto the set to amplify certain scenes, and at the end of the first night, the audience were invited to purchase copies of the books and to take part in an impromptu signing with Martin and the actors - with great success.
The man who created this amazing adaptation, adding bits and pieces from his own inventive imagination along the way, Tom Morris, had followed the play’s rehearsal process from early September, when he attended the first full run of the show. He then watched it with his family in the final week of rehearsals, and came again twice during the show week.
Martin was so pleased with the outcome of his play that he didn’t stop laughing for the entire hour, each time he watched. He and John spent a happy 30 minutes after the final night’s performance signing books for the excited and appreciative audience - and so did ‘Harry’ and ‘Oats’ who did their best Knight-in Waiting and horsey autographs!
This was truly a collaborative project made possible by the efforts of the story-creators, adaptor, director, crew, the extremely talented actors and the enthusiastic audience members we welcomed to The Mission Theatre each night.