the Indrik

Ben Galpin as Dave with the giant Indrik

Dragons and Mythical Beasts

Coventry Assembly Festival Garden


What a splendid show for would be young heroes as they face some of the most fearsome creatures known to man – or at least known to Dave, who has been training heroes for the past 3000 years.

The lad has worn well, which is more than you can say for his teaching methods, which so far, despite his best efforts and thousands of pupils, has failed to have a hero actually graduate, but Coventry could be different – indeed the whole class graduated including mums, dads and grandparents – although grandparents are already heroes . . . just saying.

Dave, played by Ben Galpin, does a brilliant job of keeping the young audience interested with his tales and legends of the mythical beasts he is about to call up from the mists of time and antiquity, not easy when ages range from toddler to nearly teenager.

He involves them, regales them with legends and encourages them to join in and help summon the beasts and dragons of yore, starting with George the dragon, well really a Wyvern rather than dragon, who is just a baby and a playful one at that.

It’s a clever start. Give the youngsters a chance to see a big puppet, one that is friendly, funny  and not at all scary to get them started.

The same can’t be said of the massive stone Troll from Scandinavia, a lump of animated granite that loves a snack of coal and has a heart of pure diamond. This is a huge puppet, and as we help Dave with his quest to create super heroes we come across a giant Griffin with a penchant for rubbish.

There are even bigger ones to come but there are little ones as well, a Baku from Japan, for example, a cuddly chap, possibly, which will eat your bad dreams, and, through a magic magnifier, we see the tooth fairy – and believe me, just be grateful she just leaves a few bob under your pillow in exchange for a tooth and you never have to meet her.

Happy, fluttering Tinkerbell she ain’t. She is so bad tempered you suspect she might have permanent toothache – just saying.

dave the hero trainer

Ben Galpin as Dave the hero trainer

Then we come to the big boys; there is a unicorn that towers above the stage, and a giant, and I mean giant, dragon, which gave my grandsons one of their highlights of the show when I was almost whacked by a 25ft dragon’s tail as it entered. I suspect it was also the disappointment of the day that it missed.

By a lucky chance the children in the audience helped Dave complete all six tasks to make everyone a super hero – except grandparents who, as we all know, are already super heroes so become superannuated heroes – which brings out the absolutely huge Indrik, the fabulous mythical king of all the creatures, and a puppet the size of a country cottage – not just a fabulous creature but an even more fabulous puppet.

The show is from the same team that brought us the wonderful Dinosaur World Live, including writer and co-director Derek Bond and the puppet designer Max Humphries. The puppets impressed the likes of me, so what they meant to children . . . ? My grandsons, six and 10 thought they were brilliant.

The large ones needed three puppeteers to operate, and they gave them lifelike movement, giving each puppet their own character, a sort of charm, apart from the grouchy tooth fairy of course, imposing figures but never threatening the audience. They did their job, impressing, filling young minds with wonder but never frightening them out of their wits.

The puppeteers are Samuel Parker, Antony Antunes, Will Palmer, Phoebe Hyder and Aiysha Nugent-Robinson, and their skill – and sounds- along with the puppets, make the show.

The show lasts an hour, which flies along, and is an hour of magic for youngsters – and adults!

Co-directed by Laura Cubitt the dragons and mythical beasts will be adding to their legends around the Assembly Festival Gardens until 07-07-22.

Roger Clarke


Coventry City of Culture

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