Dinosaur Park takes us to the memorial service for Madeline Park, where her children and ex-husband are screening a showing of Jurassic Park in her honour. When they can't find the tape, the family act out the film to us, the memorial audience. These two threads of story are woven together with a third - the history of the family, and how the divorce and bereavement has affected them all.
The most striking thing about this show is that it is very, very funny. The story is told using physical comedy, including song, dance, a lot of mime and some straight and comedy acting. The actors attacked their task with bucket loads of energy, and there is something so pleasing about seeing adults running around the stage, pretending to be dinosaurs and affectionately taking the mick out of a beloved film's plot holes. The range of the show meant that in parts it was also extremely affecting. There was a heartbreaking moment when one of the characters mourned an ailing triceratops and also her mother that made me properly cry.
While there were a couple of points where I didn't grasp what was going on initially, I found I didn't really care - in a show this fast paced, the next thing will come along soon enough, and the broad sweep of the plot was very clear. Also, while you don't have to be a super fan by any means, I'd suggest you'd have to have seen Jurassic Park at some point to really get it.
The actors' physicality was spot on - clear, clean and immediately understandable. There was also excellent use of minimalist props - a backpack becomes a dinosaur, some fern fronds become windscreen wipers - which added to the illusion that this was all being made up on the fly in a community centre.
While all the acting was excellent, Maria Askew was a standout as truculent teenager Jade. She brought real depth to what could easily have been a cliché. My favourite moment in the whole play was her rap detailing a feminist reading of Jurassic Park (all the dinosaurs are female! They're being controlled by men to make money! Why hasn't this occurred to me before?!).
The use of audience was very funny, and a really nice example of audience interaction that isn't designed to humiliate but to properly draw you in. I got the impression that the actors liked their audience, and really wanted us to have a good time.
Overall, Dinosaur Park was absolutely brilliant. It's a shame they were only here for one night - I can think of about 20 people I'd have forced to go and see it. Look out for Superbolt next time they're in Oxford! It's a long time since I've seen such a charming and clever comedy show.