AN alarming plague of dragons is heading towards York Theatre Royal Studio this Christmas.

Small ones, tall ones, fiery ones, roary ones, friendly ones, icy ones, scary ones.

They come from the pages of The Book of Dragons by E Nesbit, author of classic children’s books The Railway Children, Phoenix and the Carpet, and Five Children and It.

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York Theatre Royal associate director Juliet Forster has adapted the stories from The Book of Dragons and also directs the production, the first in-house Christmas show produced in the Studio from December 12 to January 6.

“I’d read The Book of Dragon stories as a child and had a copy of them. I think stories with dragons were really good for any age. There are nine stories in all and we’re using five of them in the show with some references to other stories,” says Juliet.

“E Nesbit has a really lovely sense of humour and a lot of the dragons in her stories are funny or friendly, not all of them are frightening. Even for someone as young as a three-year-old, dragons are exciting, magical beings.

“There are great female protagonists in what are battling dragons kind of stories. There’s a princess who’s really feisty and it’s a very modern take. The dragons are all really different and really interesting. It was difficult to choose which ones to put on stage.”

The adaptation features a brother and sister called Harry and Effie who return as young adults to their childhood home where they find dragon tracks in the snow. It’s revealed the pair are dragon detectives.

Harry and Effie’s Book of Dragons is full of tales and legends, handed down from long, long ago, as well as really recent eye witness accounts. It records suspected dragon sightings, close encounters of the dragon kind, even dragon conspiracy theories.

“So it’s a bit like the X Files for dragons,” says Juliet. “They use their time finding out about dragons and record it all in a book so they have all the top tips on how to deal with dragons, should you ever run into one. It all started when they were little and there was this alarming plague of dragons that they dealt with.

“That takes us into the first story, which is about the plague of dragons, and then they tell stories they’ve gathered and these are brought to life through physical storytelling, live animation and shadow puppetry.”

Emilio Iannucci (Harry) graduated from Royal Central’s Acting, Collaborative and Devised theatre course in 2015. He is a co-founder of the physical theatre collective Vantage Point, who debuted with their show This Might Be It last Christmas. His recent credits include feature film Death of Stalin, Peter Pan at the Mercury Theatre, animation series Myro, Tall Stories’ The Snow Dragon, and Twelfth Night and Henry V at the Pendley Shakespeare Festival. Emilio is also a singer-songwriter and an enthusiast for climbing trees in his spare time.

Elizabeth Mary-Williams (Effie) grew up in the Midlands with her Jamaican father and Irish mother. Her studies and training began in Kent, spanned California, and culminated in London at RCSSD. Specialising in physical theatre, aerial circus, and ensemble, her roles have taken her to three continents (so far) starring inThe Selfish Giant (Arcola Theatre), Tweedledum in Les Enfants Terribles' immersive Alice's Adventures Underground (The Vaults) and Lady Eboshi in Whole Hog Theatre’s adaptation of the Studio Ghibli animation Princess Mononoke (New Diorama & AIIA Theatre, Tokyo).

  • E Nesbit’s The Book of Dragons,York Theatre Royal Studio, Tuesday, December 12, to Saturday, January 6. Tickets £14.50-£11.50. Box office 01904 623568. yorktheatreroyal.co.uk