In 1992, the director/designer David Ultz asked me to collaborate with him on a new adaptation of the Russian play Dragon by Yvgeny Schwartz, which was to be produced by the Royal National Theatre later that year. T
he play concerns a village that lives under the thrall of a dragon, but as the play progresses it turns out there is no dragon at all, and really the dragon represents a fear that they need to have as they have been so conditioned to it for so long. The play was also a thinly veiled attack on the communist regime Schwartz was living under.
This was a really difficult play to adapt. There were so many things in it that didn’t translate well, and we wanted the show to have a very urban, modern feel to it that kids could relate to. I think there was a big mistake in using Spitting Image for the animatronics and then putting a big dragon on the poster. Because of course, there was no dragon, and so a lot of kids were really disappointed when the play ended and they hadn’t seen one.
But I still have a Dragon ruler which the National shop sold.