Jurassic Park, one of the most visually impressive and instantly recognisable films of the last 30 years is torn apart, interwoven with a tale of family strife and restitched into an energetic spoof in Dinosaur Park (The Jurassic Parody). The latest work from Superbolt Theatre touches down in Wilton’s Music Hall having completed a UK tour. A multi-roling whirlwind of mourning, mirth and all things Mesozoic, this show takes a beloved classic and infuses it with a completely new story, depicting how a family becomes distanced from one another but, through one common interest, stays united.
A memorial. Noah and Jade live with their father Terry in Lyme Regis, an area of Dorset renowned for its abundance of fossils, particularly those from the Jurassic period. Madeleine, the children’s mother, died a year ago but worked as a palaeontologist and encouraged a fervent interest in dinosaurs in both the children and her husband. To mark the anniversary of her death, they have invited a group of friends, family and neighbours to the town hall to watch the Steven Spielberg classic Jurassic Park. However, the VHS has been misplaced and the family begins to panic. Thus ensues, after some deliberation, an 80-minute re-enactment of the film with each of the family members taking on several roles in a desperate bid to pay their respects.
Dinosaur Park works on many levels. Each of the cast injects their own energy and sense of humour into the piece which makes for some truly hilarious moments. Half of the show is incredibly enjoyable – namely the points parodying the original film. These scenes are very funny, gently ridiculing some of the deep, serious moral and ethical questions explored in Jurassic Park. The dialogue between the dysfunctional family is sadly not as entertaining. Collectively the family is interesting and the straining strength of their relationships comes across clearly but the individual characters are not honed and their time onstage feels unnecessary, regrettably occupying a large chunk of the show. The trio works well and the pace accelerates after the intermission. However, the story initially lacks drive and fluidity and the audience shuffles impatiently as they are kept waiting for the first glimpse of the characters and creatures we know and love. While a great deal of the humour rests heavily on the presumption that the audience has seen Jurassic Park, the cast, led by Simon Maeder, does a great job of ensuring that each of the story’s points are covered with brisk energy and delightful expression. The minimal set works well – a scattering of potted plants that are picked up, played with and brandished at the audience with speed and ferocity – and the moderate levels of audience participation are well suited to a less theatre-savvy audience.
All in all, Dinosaur Park is a success. More than a few times, there are long bouts of laughter both in the auditorium and onstage. Some of the scenes are so (suitably) ridiculous and cartoonish that the actors cannot help but show their own enjoyment. The appeal of this show is of course the shared nostalgia and the theatrically inventive new way of depicting a universally revered behemoth in the film industry.
Reviewed by Alex Foott
Dinosaur Park plays at Wilton’s Music Hall until 2 July