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Enter the Dragons

at Pleasance Dome

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Surrealist take on growing older which embraces both the childish and the mature.

Image of Enter the Dragons

Aging is a bitter pill to swallow for all of us, but for women living in a patriarchal society, it’s doubly difficult. Subconsciously judged on their appearance by all and sundry, women of a certain age must tread a fine line between trying too hard to stay young and letting themselves go. It’s a bloody minefield and Abigail Dooley and Emma Edwards – the creative minds behind Enter the Dragons – have had just about enough of it.

They approach this quagmire of double standards through a good, old-fashioned Quixotic quest; our “protagonist” (gender-neutral pronouns are important, we’re reminded) sets off on a surreal adventure to find the god of time Kronos and slay him once and for all. Along the way, we meet a whole cast of kooky characters, including a siren who hasn’t learned her lines, a pair of senile seers and a fairy godmother named DolGerIris. It’s thoroughly silly stuff, but the clownish horseplay and absurd storyline are underpinned by salient points about the nature of growing older gracefully.

The writing is punchy and sharp, with several stand-out one-liners and a particularly daring act of exposure that gambles all on a setup telegraphed a mile away – and wins big. Having said that, not all of the gags land as planned and the script is guilty of spoon-feeding its audience at times. Some of the jokes are a little too on-the-nose and even right from the get-go, the fourth wall is punctured to inform us that the play is going to be metaphorical in nature. Later, the pair once again break character to explain they will be breaking character. Asides like these shouldn’t really be necessary, but they’re a minor criticism which don’t overly detract from enjoyment of the zany narrative that Dooley and Edwards have cooked up.

There’s a rousing accordion-accompanied singalong which draws a hearty round of applause from the audience, while the razzmatazz of the finale feels apt given what’s gone before. The pair of monologues – one delivered by each of the performers – drop the funnies for a fleeting moment to expose real tensions and traumas, but the silliness of the narrative arc brings us back from the brink. All in all, it’s a refreshing mix of childishness and maturity towards an oft-overlooked theme.