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Dinosaur Park (St James Theatre)

Superbolt Theatre's award-winning production transfers from the Edinburgh Fringe

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Frode Gjerløw, Maria Askew and Simon Maeder in Dinosaur Park
© Geraint Lewis

It's a year to the day since Jade (Maria Askew) and Noah's (Simon Maeder) palaeontologist mum Madeleine died in a road collision, friends and family are gathered at Lyme Regis Community Centre for a screening of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park in her memory. But when dad Terry (Frode Gjerløw) realises they've left the VHS behind, it's up to the family to re-enact the film live on stage.

Superbolt Theatre's Dinosaur Park (previously known as Jurassic Park) shifts between the film and reality, past and present. We see a dysfunctional family try to cope with divorce and later Gjerløw's dad struggling to deal with life as a single parent. Memorable moments from the film are juxtaposed with real life events, Jade argues against Dr Ian Malcolm's definition of Chaos Theory, putting forward her own, more personal version - would her mum still be alive if she hadn't forgotten her lunch that day? The ailing Triceratops becomes their mother, fading away on her hospital bed.

All this sounds a bit glum, but it is definitely a comedy and there's genuinely funny moments throughout. The Lecoq trained trio are all brilliant physical comedians and their embodiment of the park's dinos is both hilarious and an effective way of transitioning between realms. Fans of the 1993 film will delight in the impressions of characters including Jeff 'um, er' Goldblum's Dr Ian Malcolm and the late Richard Attenborough's John Hammond.

It's easy to see why this was a hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe and it suits the studio space at the St James well. In some respects, the play has fallen foul of the curse of the transfer - commercial theatres needing longer productions with an interval to make money at the bar - which means the original 60 minutes straight through has been extended to one hour forty with a break and hence the pace suffers slightly.

Subtle lighting (Tim Mascall) and sound (Ross Flight) design combine with a brilliantly written script to create a truly enjoyable evening that any fan of the film will love. After some consideration, I've decided, that I will endorse Dinosaur Park.

Dinosaur Park runs until 23 January. For more information and to book tickets, click here.