Regents Park Open Air Theatre – until 9 September
Reviewed by Lottie Davis-Browne
Growing up in the early 1980s my first introduction to dinosaurs was friendly cartoon character – the aptly named “Denver – The Last Dinosaur”. It wasn’t until the 1993 movie “Jurassic Park” that I was able to see a more realistic dinosaur to truly appreciate these prehistoric beasts in their full glory, however growing up with two sisters my interest in dinosaurs was somewhat extinct before it even started.
Flash forward to the present day to a sunny Friday afternoon when I had the pleasure of attending Dinosaur World Live – an interactive touring production, in London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, with a dinosaur obsessed three year old boy.
With advances in puppetry in live theatre (thanks to a certain War Horse!) I was expecting great things – and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!
This final venue of the tour is set against the stage set for the current production of “Little Shop of Horrors”, Dinosaur World Live opens with Miranda (Elizabeth Mary Williams) introducing herself to the audience, engaging with the young audience from the second she enters the stage, telling us how her parents met in prehistoric times – “the early 1990’s” whilst working at the National History Museum together and that her first experience of meeting a dinosaur was as a young child whilst out picking blackberries. She explains how she ended up washed up on an island without her parents – using a large wooden toy boat which is passed into the audience how Miranda explains how she came to live on an island with dinosaurs.
There’s instantly a relaxed atmosphere from the moment the story starts, with children being picked out to help at various points in the fifty-some minute production. The audience are shown a dinosaur egg which is getting ready to hatch and encouraged to shout Miranda if they spot any signs of movement from it.
Soon Miranda is introducing us to several dinosaurs – so cleverly pupeteered that even the older audience members are quickly mesmerised by what appears to be actual real live dinosaurs! The attention to detail is outstanding – you can actually see the scales in their skin and the several different colours which are captured in the sunlight beautifully.
There’s baby Tamora – a young female Tyrannosaurus who loves to play with a ball and squeaky dogs toys! Her favourite foods are chicken – and other dinosaurs! She lives on the island with her mum, Titus. “Tyrannosaurus” comes from the Greek word meaning “Tyrant Lizard” whilst “Rex” is the Latin word for King.
We also met (amongst several other dinosaurs) Gertrude – a Giraffatitan (meaning “giant giraffe”) who ways up to 43 tons (five times as heavy as a T-Rex) and the colourful Juliet – a Segnosaurus (meaning “slow lizard).
Throughout the story, Miranda gives the audience lots of simple facts about each dinosaurs, from what they like to eat, how their bodies are structured and where they originate from. There’s plenty of audience interaction aimed at the hundreds of dino-enthusiatic children. The show is both visually stunning and educational. A rip-ROARing success of a production!
The fifty-some minute production (no interval) seemed to be over so quickly (in the best possible sense) but with the chance to meet the dinosaurs up close and personal afterwards made this an utterly ROAR-some day for the whole family.
Whilst every other theatre production has a strict no-photography policy, the audience were encouraged at the beginning to take as many photos as they liked – and to share them on social media (@dinoworldlive on Twitter and Instagram), to which of course I took hundreds and eagerly added my own (Instagram) the following day when I had slept off the excitement of having met these prehistoric creatures in the flesh.
For tickets and information for the rest of the tour, please see dinosaurworldlive.com and follow on social media (@dinoworldlive).