Review: The Blue Dragon (Mirvish)

Lepage entrances audiences with Mirvish’s The Blue Dragon, playing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto until February 19, 2012

Robert Lepage is an internationally-acclaimed theatre director from Quebec known for his unusual and spellbinding use of technology. Written by Lepage and Marie Michaud, this play is a sequel to their Dragon’s Trilogy.

There are only three actors in the production, all with unique personalities. It follows the story of a Quebecoise man named Pierre who lives in China and faces conflict with two women – “one from his Western past and one from his Asian present,” as described by the Mirvish press release.

Tai Wei Foo, who plays Xiao Ling, choreographs all the dance routines in the show. This is also her first experience as an actress. Foo’s entrance into theatre is full of expression and intense emotion. Her dancing is weaved into the set design as if they are one.

My theatre companion and I both loved Marie Michaud. Her character is so deep, so real and clever. She really stands out in the production as her character is extremely likeable and life-like.

What we both liked the most was the set design. This is Robert Lepage’s “thing” – the use of technology to create theatrical magic. At times I just sat there thinking, “How is he doing that?” – as if I were watching a magic show. He is a master of visual storytelling. The set is split into two stories – resembling everything from a sushi bar, to a bicycle trail, to an airplane, to a night club.

The show comprises elegant strokes of theatre, art, film and dance, with the use of unconventional set design techniques to bring them together. There are also subtitles in French and Mandarin, which add to the movie-like nature of the production.

I think I would call this play a mixture of romance and self-discovery. Each character in this play is looking for something they do not have. And the ending is one of the most unique and hopeful I’ve seen in a long time.

Watch this play if you’ve never seen something by Robert Lepage. You’ll get a good idea of what he’s all about. The play combines elements of Canada and China, which I think is a great addition for Canadian theatre. The Blue Dragon is a marvel for the design alone. Lepage is a true artist for the theatre.


Photo by Erick Labbe
Edit: The press release quotation in the second paragraph has been attributed.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Blue Dragon (Mirvish)”

  1. After reading the second paragraph of this review, I thought something sounded familiar.

    Then I checked my email for the show’s press release, and – lo and behold! – here is tail-end of the first paragraph of Mirvish’s synopsis of The Blue Dragon:

    … the life of an expat Canadian living in Shanghai is turned upside down by two women — one from his Western past and one from his Asian present.

    Both review and press release contain the phrase “one from his Western past and one from his Asian present.”


  2. Hey Glenn,

    I’ll clarify what happened with Tiffany. My guess is either that she forgot the quotation marks, or the phrase was in her head from reading the press release so that’s what came out, without her realizing she was effectively quoting.

    Either way, definitely not a coincidence. ;)

  3. Just saw this play. My companions and I walked out of the theatre feeling that we had just
    enjoyed a unique experience. The sets combined with the technical wizardry complemented and expanded the storyline. The actors held their own within this finely tuned backdrop bringing to life the characters and their story. Would love to see more of this teams work!!

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