Fancy a theatrical and thought provoking Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese takeaway? The Golden Dragon is a “dark modern tale of immigration” set in the kitchen of an East Asian restaurant as well as in the homes and businesses of some of its regular patrons. Just in time for Chinese New Year … German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s one act exacting contemplation of globalisation is on for a (very) short run at South Kensington’s Drayton Arms pub theatre.
Direction (Tom Brocklehurst and Elena Liutkute) was clever and agile during yesterday’s press night staging. With a script jumping to and fro between settings, the action on the stage never once came across as convoluted. Lighting was especially effective. And minimal design elements supported the happenings on the stage with impressive and deliberate efficiency, as if even one more added bit would have got in the way.
Teutonic in its aim for clinically precise description (and almost soullessly dry because of this effort), Schimmelpfennig’s writing (translation by David Tushingham) had a dazzling clip to it. Unfortunately, this was dragged down and flubbed by one particular cast member noticeably struggling with lines from time to time. The rest of the cast offered solid performances though. And on an especially positive note, actor Linus Karp proved most versatile as he pulled off quick switches between a handful of vulnerable roles with commendable ease.
Although only one act and only about an hour and a half long, an intermission (even an extremely brief one) would have done wonders to the enjoyment of this engaging if rather formidable play.
The Golden Dragon runs until 1 February (yep Saturday’s the last night) at the Drayton Arms, 153 Old Brompton Road, SW5 0LJ. Tickets cost £8 tonight and £10 on Friday and Saturday (both of which I reckon is great value for this intriguing piece of theatre). Find out more at thedraytonarmssw5.co.uk.