The experience of Dinopocalypse began before we reached the venue, with the Facebook event page containing messages from Dinocorp. Patrons were greeted at the door by experts, palaeontologists, and dinosaur translators, and were able to mingle with them at the bar prior to the presentation. Everyone was then separated into groups, each led by a Dinocorp guide, and the tours began.
Parts of the theatre experience do take place outside, so dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. After viewing and experiencing some of the dinosaur habitats and behaviours, the audience were brought back together for a Q&A session – what did the dinosaurs eat? Why had they come to the surface? What was Dinocorp doing to help them?
The cast and crew did a stellar job of managing a deliberately unpredictable performance and made full use of the theatre space, with settings and props changing seamlessly while the audience was elsewhere. All cast members could confidently answer questions about the dinosaurs, their history, habitat, etc. Costuming was excellent, and lighting and sound were used to great effect.
The physical theatre performed by the four dinosaurs was exceptional, and their interaction with the audience was thoughtful and thought-provoking. The show’s promotional material labels it “Jurassic Park meets Manus Island” and while it did explore ideas of assimilation and civilisation, the dinosaurs were presented as the ‘other’ in a way that left the audience feeling unsure. In a theatre space, we tend to believe what performers tell us – if you tell me that person is a dinosaur, I accept it as true. Dinopocalypse allowed the audience to question this process, and gave the opportunity for those questions to be asked and acted upon.
Speaking to others after the show, it became clear that different groups were shown different sides of Dinocorp, some aligning the dinosaurs’ plight more closely with socio-political issues. For example, no one could pass the ‘assimilation test’, and its difficulty kept increasing. I interpreted the show as a commentary on zoo culture and animal abuse, but that’s the beauty of this kind of theatre – everyone takes away something different from the experience.
Dinopocalypse is showing at Backbone Youth Arts, East Brisbane, on May 9, 11, 16 & 18 from 7pm. Read more and book tickets on their event page.
Review of May 11 performance.
Image credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.