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Watermill - Dragon's Teeth

22nd to 25th November 2001.

Watermill Young Company's production deals directly with the human weakness behind racial and class hatred, plunging deep into a world of vengeance. Dragon's Teeth can be described as a play for today, a moral tale that reinforces that violence can only breed violence. Set in a contemporary time the play plots a village being torn apart by racial and class hatred. A shopkeeper is the subject of a vicious attack by local thugs. A court case brings an ambitious but disenchanted solicitor into the frame. He takes control and tries to organise a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, to sort out the villager’s problems once and for all. But life is never that simple. Slowly everything begins to spiral out of control. This is the NWN review.

Quality work by young company

'DRAGON'S TEETH', at the Watermill, from November 22 to 25

The Watermill's Young Company production of Peter Cann's 'Dragon's Teeth' is a powerful and sinister thriller. The title is derived from an old Japanese proverb stating that if the teeth of a slayed dragon are sown like seeds in our hearts, then they too will grow to violence.

The setting is the country village of Omaton, strikingly designed by Purvin on a circular stage draped in a large Union Jack floorcloth. Moving images are projected and the stage is surrounded by white chairs - an uncompromising challenge for the actors.

Ade Morris's inventive direction uses elements of Greek theatre, choral-speaking, and mask. The actors remain on stage throughout the play, becoming villagers, supermarket shelves and animals as the story unfolds.

The local village shop is constantly being robbed by a group of local thugs, the police are half an hour away and overstreched. It is time for each to protect their own property. Lizzie Sigrist, a talented actress to watch, was the frustrated, frightened shopkeeper, Roz, who takes the law into her own hands and confronts the burglars, killing one of them. She is arrested and the villagers volunteer to run the shop in order to keep it open.

Enter the suave, sophisticated barrister, convincingly played by Rhys Swinburn, who takes on the case and Roz is found not guilty. "If Swarfega could talk it would be him". He manipulates the village to form a vigilante neighbourhood-watch with devastating results. The OMA movement grows in strength under the crusading Roz and nightly patrols are introduced to keep the village safe.

Louise-Marie Morris gave a splendid performance as the blind Carol Trench whose brother Kevin, a hard-headed petty villain, strongly played by Gareth Warne, is hunted by the vigilantes.

Events spiral out of control when a young girl is killed in a hit-and-run accident and OMA accuses Kevin of the crime. They demand 'an eye for an eye' in a kangaroo court. Kevin, protesting his innocence, is given 24 hours to confess. He ends up killing himself.

This was quality work with a cast who worked hard throughout to create their own distinctive style.