“Golden Dragon” Moves Fast, Fittingly Through Intertwined Stories



Sideshow Theatre’s production of German playwright Roland Schimmenlpfenig’s “The Godlen Dragon” takes place in and around a busy Chinese restaurant, which is crowned with a set of small, dinghy apartments. A cast of 5 plays 20 different characters and most of the play is told through narratives that are acted out and also read like dialogue. The observational content and speedy delivery of the casts’ lines gives the entire a play a sort of film noir-feel.

The play starts in the Golden Dragon Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant where a young Chinese man is having a serious toothache. While jumping back and forth between the stories and backgrounds of other characters in and around the restaurant, the young man finally has the tooth extracted from another employee using a dirty pipe wrench. At this point the tooth begins a journey of its own will eventually help tie the insignificant lives of the characters together by the end of the short 65-minute production.

While short in length, the blistering delivery of the lines in the play and the lack of any break in the action allows the cast to weave a fairly elaborate story into the short runtime. Other character’s include a broken-hearted man recently separated from his wife, a hard-drinking convenience store owner and an ant and cricket. The disturbing metaphor behind the ant and the critic comes out near the end of the play and may be the most intriguing of parallel stories being carried out the Victory Garden’s stage, but it’s far from the most bizarre.

The production is held in Victory Gardens smaller resident theatre and it’s a fine fit. The unconventional delivery, fast pace of the play and poor conditions of the neighborhood that serves as the setting just seem better suited to a location with a storefront-feel than the Garden’s mainstage. The five actors switch between gender and race but with plenty of narration it’s never hard to tell which character they are playing. While the short and fast scenes seem convoluted at first, once the setting is clear they appropriately move the story  through the hectic situations occurring in and around the restaurant. Deanna Myers, Matt Fletcher, David Lawrence Hamilton, Daria Harper and Noah Sullivan all gave fine performances.

“The Golden Dragon” runs through Feb. 23 at Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Curtain is Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at www.victorygardens.org, or by calling (773) 871-3000.