Theatre Review

Dinosaur Park: Review

Dinosaur Park, a Superbolt Theatre production.

Photo taken from the Superbolt website
Photo taken from the Superbolt website

I had not heard anything about this until Christmas day, when G opened our present from his parents and found two tickets inside. My mother in law had been recommended it by a work colleague. It boasted to be a Jurassic Park spoof that Spielberg himself would be impressed by.

It was with some trepidation that we headed up to St James Theatre on 9th January 2016. I have a fair bit of experience with small theatre companies what with my own acting training, and the production level can vary wildly from amazing to cringe worthy.

We headed into the small underground studio with our bottle of wine to find an intimate performance area, bar and comfy seating. We were sitting up in that gallery on these lovely squishy, swively arm chairs. This gave us a great view of the small stage. It was fairly bare, with some fake-leafy plants and an odd collection of props scattered around. As we waited for the show to begin I very much enjoyed sitting there sipping my wine and listening to the nostalgic 90s playlist.  The audience was primarily made up of people in their late 20s early 30s, in other words – 90s kids, and I could see many of them also reminiscing to the music.

Before the performance started, the three cast members came out into the audience to chat in character. The premise was that they were doing a very special showing of Jurassic Park in memoriam of their mother/wife. However, someone forgot to bring the VHS. This leads to a very humorous re-enactment of the film splattered with flashbacks from their family life. The first time the transition from present to past happened, I was a bit scared. Suddenly, the lights changed and the three cast started acting like dinosaurs to music. I thought that we were accidently watching some horrific artsy thing. However, it didn’t take long for me to realise, as an amateur, that I was watching masters at work.

Photo from St James Theatre. Credit: Geraint Lewis
Photo from St James Theatre. Credit: Geraint Lewis

The use of props, music and movement was absolutely divine. Brechtian techniques joined flawlessly with Lecoq’s teaching style to create a wonderful performance that will have you laughing out loud as well blinking back tears. The piece was also written by the three actors and it is obvious that they have dedicated a lot of effort to developing their characters. The daughter – stroppy teenager, dancer and feminist; the son – excitable, energetic and a little bit naïve, and the father – confused and distant but well-meaning. The trio take on the roles of the Jurassic Park cast (including the dinosaurs) with vigour and passion.

I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil the show because I urge you to go and see it. Some people suggest a recent watch of the film prior to seeing Dinosaur Park so that it is fresh in your mind, but I don’t think it is necessary. However, it is probably best to have seen it since it was released in ’93. I managed to catch the last 2/3rds of the film on TV around six months ago, but the first part I hadn’t seen in over 10 years or so. I would recommend not leaving it quite that long.

If you love dinosaurs, feminist raps, Jurassic Park, 90s nostalgia, intimate performances or just a great night out- go and see this. Or just go see this anyway. After finishing its stint at St James it travels to Melbourne before coming back for a UK tour in May and June.  That means you have ample time and opportunity to get tickets.

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