Dragon, a new play by Jenny Connell Davis that is the debut production for Articulate Theatre Company, is about the romance of dragons. It's a love story, or a couple of love stories, that match humans with the magical fire-breathing winged beasts. Two stories unfold simultaneously on stage: one about a boy who meets a Dragon Girl and falls in love with her; and one about a married couple who are visited at their Minnesota home, in the middle of a blizzard, by a mysterious man who is her former lover and who seems also to be a dragon.
I'm not at all steeped in dragon lore (I don't even know if there is much dragon lore); Davis dips into and/or invents mythology around these creatures, giving them some of the sexy and eternal qualities we associate with vampires. Indeed, Dragon often put me in mind of the current trend toward supernatural romance that's currently prevalent in our popular culture. It's not a world I'm particularly familiar with; as I watched the play I kept waiting for the moment when the metaphor would be revealed in the relationships between dragons and humans—but that doesn't seem to ever happen. This is a play about impossibility and miracles.
Cat Parker's production is involving and features a more elaborate design than we typically encounter in a festival environment. Her design team includes George Allison (sets), Dennis Parichy (lighting), and Kwan-Fai Lam (sound); probably the most invaluable member is Karen Ann Ledger, whose imaginative costumes go a long way toward transforming Daniel Piper Kublick and Katie Mack into dragons. Kublick is terrific as the Dragon, energy and potency repressed as he takes human shape to stay indoors; childlike and guileless and full of secrets. Mack's Dragon Girl is less ambivalent, less enigmatic (for reasons that you'll understand after you've seen the story unfold).
As the humans, Maeve Yore is compelling as the woman torn between a human husband and family and this unexpected arrival from her past, while Tony Ponella and James Leighton are fine as the Dragon Girl's Boy at two different times in his young life. Joe Roseto is immensely sympathetic as Yore's husband, an earnest, regular guy caught in a triangle he didn't look for and can't fully comprehend.
Dragon is an unusual choice for festival presentation on many levels, and I commend Parker's fledgling company and the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity for giving it a whirl. If you enjoy tales of romantic longing and flights of fancy involving creatures that really can fly, Dragon may suit you just fine.