Edinburgh Fringe 2016
“What if you never had to deal with anything in your life you didn’t want to? But instead had a suave and sassy gay German dragon to deal with it for you? Sound enchanting?”
Written and performed by Kevin Rolston, Deal with the Dragon is a solo show about one’s inner demons – or maybe, one’s dragons? On a spare set with one chair, Rolston takes us on a non-linear journey to San Francisco through three very different characters. Brenn is a German with strong dragon tendencies, Hunter a competitive visual artist and Gandi, a finalist in the competition with Hunter. The competition will award one artist a showing at a prestigious art museum, so the stakes are high.
Poetic and well-crafted Rolston is a compelling performer with a dynamic presence. Using different voices and accents – for example, the dragon is German – he switches back and forth so quickly that it keeps you on your toes following the story’s intricacies. In fact you might get lost in South San Francisco or one of the other neighbourhoods mentioned in the story. However, it’s quick to get back on track, though, because Rolston is so focused and knows exactly where he is leading us.
Rolston’s vocal range is clear and resonant – he even sounds just like a dragon sometimes, it’s very real and haunting! He uses his physicality very well; it’s all very clear and decisive, as he moves around he space as one character, then another in rapid fire. This performance is intense, well paced and every moment is finessed.
The characters and their topics in Deal with the Dragon are very now, which adds to its charm, humour and grittiness, such as when someone is writing Yelp reviews about baristas. As Hunter goes on his journey we pass through Venice in 1564, the Black Forest, we meet a Prince and Princess and more. Hunter has to figure things out and overcome obstacles. We learn fascinating facts about Gandi’s life.
There is also intense emotion, stories of drugs a dysfunctional family and even a Travelodge hotel/motel in California and back. Sound effects are very effective and enhance the physical storytelling – adding atmosphere and dimension to this one-person show. There is a fascinating mix of the old world of fairy tale, cautionary tale, surprises from magic realism and life in today’s San Francisco all cleverly blended in the crafting of this show
The deal? Well, you will have to go and discover this for yourself!