Deal With The Dragon is a one man show written and performed by Kevin Rolston. It comes to Edinburgh after being selected as Best of the San Francisco Fringe.

The play is a modern take on the traditional ‘deal with the devil’ and follows what happens when Hunter, a talented and fragile artist, strikes up a relationship with Brenn, a charming German gentleman. The partnership between benefactor and artist switches from romantic and sexual to intimidating in a heartbeat. Brenn calls the artist his ward, but what does that really mean?

We soon discover this suave European in San Francisco is not all he seems and while Hunter seeks a way out of his situation, Gandy, another artist keen for success, wants to take his place.

Rolston is a highly trained stage actor and he shows off his skills in this piece where he plays all the roles. He switches easily from a vulnerable young boy to the terrified artist to a confessional speaker at an AA meeting and, of course, Brenn, at turns suave and terrifying. With minimal staging and no costume changes it falls to Rolston alone to present the tale to the audience. During the AA meeting the audience become the attendees, listening to and learning from the tragi-comic tale of a struggle with addiction.

This play is a roller coaster ride which requires the audience to pay attention to keep up with the changing characters and stories presented to us. What seem at first to be traditional stereotypes are set up and then challenged through the clever writing and performance. Rolston is impressive as he takes us on a dark, sometimes comic, journey exploring the results of self-destructive behaviour and the consequences of the pursuit of success.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Kenny Yun

DEAL WITH THE DRAGON plays at C Nova until 29 August 2016