Instead of breathing fire, "The Reluctant Dragon" wants to write poetry
Not many dragons look like villains from the pages of Batman comic books. But it is very hard to look at actor Josh Hartvigson's eponymous...
Special to The Seattle Times
"The Reluctant Dragon," adapted from the Kenneth Grahame story by Lela and David H. Szondy. 5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through Aug. 12, Volunteer Park Amphitheater, 1498 E. Prospect St., Seattle; free (information: 206-324-5801 or www.schmeater.org).
Not many dragons look like villains from the pages of Batman comic books. But it is very hard to look at actor Josh Hartvigson's eponymous, winged beast in Theater Schmeater's "The Reluctant Dragon" and not think of the Joker.
With his poofy green hair, garish makeup and long coattails, Hartvigson looks like he should be making mischief in Gotham City. But the actor is too busy for that, instead delivering a wonderful performance as a cultured dandy of a dragon in this free, outdoor family show staged at Volunteer Park's amphitheater.
Based on Kenneth Grahame's 1898 children's tale, "The Reluctant Dragon" tells the story of a boy (Scott Morse) who befriends a rather loquacious, friendly creature dwelling in a cave. This is a dragon eager to read his poems to an appreciative audience and entertain human guests. Hartvigson captures the unrepressed joy of an antediluvian monster that has longed to be invited to banquets and meet new people.
Unfortunately, tradition dictates that humans must ward off dragons, and the boy's fellow villagers feel constrained by such expectations. In steps St. George (Aaron Allshouse), dragon-slayer, who is willing to get rid of the pest, but soon develops affectionate regard for him. Along with the boy, George and his supposed prey hatch a plan that will satisfy everyone's concerns.
Aside from the odd kazoo and George's spear, "The Reluctant Dragon" is free of props, and sets are strictly in the mind's eye. But the cast had loads of personality, and while the dialogue is modern, the story's narration (by Todd Hull, playing both Grahame and the boy's father) has a stateliness requiring kids in the audience to listen closely.
Sitting in the grass at Volunteer Park on a warm day is a pretty pleasant experience all around.
Add to that watching "The Reluctant Dragon" in the company of an enthusiastic kid, and there's a great summer memory in the making.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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