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At the opening of The Blue Dragon, Pierre introduces Chinese calligraphy and the beauty of simple images inscribed in a perfect square. Then the stage is struck by a lightning bolt, the film credits roll and we are invited to a gallery opening of oversized self-portraits taken by a mobile phone. Things have changed, we are quickly reminded, in this sequel to The Dragon Trilogy (1985). Pierre Lamontagne (Henri Chassé), once a Montreal artist, is now a Shanghai art curator, while his ex-wife Claire (Marie Michaud - also a co-writer) wants to give up her advertising career to be Mummy. But the vision of Robert Lepage and the work of Ex Machina to push theatre into a radically new form is the 'single direct line' that roots this production. The stage of the O'Reilly theatre is host to a feat of engineering in the split-level set that is alternately, and seamlessly, locations as diverse as an airplane cabin, a karaoke bar, the Shanghai skyline and a screen of Omniplex proportions showing a KFC chicken advertisement. Yet the sophisticated mechanics cannot fully support a slight story line that sometimes feels like an introductory class to Chinese politics and culture. Pierre explains to his ex-wife Claire on her arrival that he has given up promoting his own work to defend worthy causes and admits, with a hint of melancholy that 'I am not putting myself in danger anymore.' In fact, he has put a young artist he mentors in danger, by getting her pregnant in a city where single mothers are fined and their offspring denied all supports. Pierre recognizes his own disillusion, and finds that his only relief is to escape to Hong Kong for that 'narcotic mix: pain, pleasure and dark desire.' He submits himself to 'one of the five great punishments,' the tattoo parlour, while Claire and the pregnant Xiao Ling (Tai Wei Foo) strike up an unlikely friendship over cocktails and trips to see the pandas in the zoo. The images presented are extraordinary and stunning, not least the rare vision of snowfall in Shanghai, but for some reason it is the character of the hardened, battling Claire with the doll in her handbag that lingers in the memory. When her plans to adopt a child are cruelly crushed for practical reasons, we are waiting for the fickle, fame-hungry Xiao Ling to name her price. But Xiao Ling ends up churning out reproductions of Van Gogh's work in the Dafen's copyist fair and having learned of his father's death in Canada, Pierre begins to rethink his future in a country where he believes the 'new-born freedoms' have only imposed a different kind of control. Like the three gorges of the legend, there is more than one possible ending to the whole affair to be worked through. Although tarnished by the number of times it has been prefigured in the script, the conclusion has an endearing simplicity. It amuses and satisfies all audience members, before the credits roll and we wonder if The Blue Dragon can justifiably be called a theatrical experience, or if we've just been part of something entirely unique.

7 Oct - 10 Oct 7.30pm 10 Oct 2.30pm 11 Oct 3.00pm Duration 2hrs Prices хл25-хл35

The Blurb

After taking Dublin by storm with the hit of the 2003 Festival the far side of the moon, one of the true visionaries of modern theatre, Québecois director, actor and storyteller Robert Lepage, returns to the Festival with this emotionally vivid and visually enthralling journey. The Blue Dragon is the sequel to Robert Lepage’s 1985 breakthrough masterpiece The Dragons’ Trilogy and marks the return of that play’s central figure, an artist who resurfaces in Shanghai twenty years later. Set in the effervescent paradox that is modern China, his encounters with a former art school classmate and a young Chinese artist open unexpected doors and bring about fundamental changes for each of them.

Call Sheet

Robert Lepage
Marie Michaud
Ex Machina
Production Company
Ex Machina
Robert Lepage
Henri Chasse
Marie Michaud
Tai Wei Foo

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