A 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.

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.”

E. Nesbit’s The Book of Dragons is for children aged 3+ and their families. For tickets contact the box office on 01904 623568 or go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk