Written and directed by The Edge’s Artistic Director, Janine Waters, the venue’s latest feel-good production In The Time of Dragons provides a whip-smart and boundlessly imaginative time-hopping tale of self-discovery, sexuality and the indomitable human soul with a poignant and achingly funny show to launch the Chorlton theatre’s spring season.

Brimming with razor-sharp dialogue, original music and artful, immersive set design with period-accurate costumes to render its characters in vivid detail, In the Time of Dragons follows the parallel timelines of jobbing Deansgate cabaret singer Shelagh and disillusioned, vodka-clutching music teacher Jack, who respectively occupy the same Salford flat in 1965 and 2024.

One fateful night, a violent Mancunian storm batters the building and, thanks to some wildly unsafe electrical wiring, a rare phenomenon causes an impossible temporal collapse which unites past and present in a clattering maelstrom of slamming books and screeching furniture, leaving the pair able to communicate blindly across the ether. Initially skeptical of one another’s presence – Jack reasonably suspects a hangover for the ages – they develop a tentative bond through a love of sixties music and transcendent mutual counseling, as Jack aids Shelagh in a revelatory journey of self-realisation about her sexuality while Sheelagh tenderly affirms Jack’s long-lost creative spark. She also desperately yearns for answers about her future and the state of the modern world, bemoaning her disadvantaged musical career – ‘Manchester and music don’t go together’ – leading to some hilarious vagaries and wry innuendo from Jack about cultural change, contemporary politics, bleeding-edge technology and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by breezily accomplished performances from Megan Keaveney and Rupert Hill in the starring roles and supported by a deliciously roguish turn from Tom Guest in a series of versatile characters, most notably as Shelagh’s sleazy, exploitative manager-cum-husband, as well as a nuanced outing from Hannah Nuttall as a put-upon Blue Angel club worker and Shelagh’s reassuring friend, Waters’ effervescent playscript expertly blends gentle sincerity and rapier wit, off-setting every flash of sardonic misanthropy with sage messages of irresistible optimism.

Flawlessly accompanied on piano by Alec, Simon and Alec Waters’ impressively eclectic musical score vividly recaptures the spirit of the sixties through inventive yet classically flamboyant topical showtunes and jazz flourishes, while Jack’s melancholic guitar number stirringly evokes the agony of unfulfilled dreams through timeless lyricism and dry one-liners.

Brimming with inventive tunes, whip-smart humour and heartwarming endearment, In the Time of Dragons provides an uplifting message of triumphant hope with a crackling script and star performances from a cast of decorated actors, delighting audiences with an immensely entertaining meditation on queerness, art and personal purpose that lays bare the transcendent, timeless humanity of connection and creativity.

Check out more upcoming shows at The Edge via the website.

A Manchester Wire Partnership post
The Edge Theatre,
Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9JG

Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Thu 21 Mar 2024