dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

The Golden Dragon review at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff – ‘thought-provoking’

Scene from The Golden Dragon at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. Photo: Clive Barda Scene from The Golden Dragon at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. Photo: Clive Barda
by -

How many frequenters of Chinese restaurants bother to think about the lives of the people preparing their food? In The Golden Dragon, premiered in the UK last year by Music Theatre Wales and now touring, Peter Eotvos unfolds a tale of pandemonium and brutal tragedy as dark realities of immigrant exploitation burst through the social divide.

Based on the play by Roland Schimmelpfennig, the production uses a long red trestle to announce its kitchen-cum-diner setting. Upstage are the superb Music Theatre Wales Ensemble, bristling with percussive, rasping, slip-sliding purpose under conductor Geoffrey Paterson. About the table, five adroit singer-actors bring 23 characters to life between them in Michael McCarthy’s astutely surreal production.

Multiple, inter-linked scenarios combine scathingly witty burlesque with an increasingly sombre social drama. At the centre lies the all-too real tale of the Little One (portrayed with heartrending innocence by Llio Evans), whose illegal status denies him medical aid when spanner extraction of a rotten incisor lands more than a fly in the soup.

Underpinning the whole, a savagely comic reworking of Aesop’s fable sees the Cricket (a horribly cowed Andrew Mackenzie Wicks) eventually subjected to starvation, gang rape, trafficking and slave labour in the clutches of the evil Ant – Lucy Schaufer in commanding form.

Daniel Norman and Johnny Herford, too, are outstanding as Eva and Inga, kitschy-camp flight attendants who get more than they bargain for at a post-flight meal.

The social messages are blunt, but no less vital for all that – albeit there is wider irony in Eotvos’ pseudo-Asian musical exoticism, which treads a fine line between righteous satire and cultural cliche.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
A thought-provoking, brilliantly performed critique of immigrant exploitation
^