Dinosaur World at Derby Theatre

****

dino

A children’s show, primarily aimed at the under 7’s which capitalises on the enduring love affair children, and their parents, have with dinosaurs. The dinosaurs themselves are cleverly manipulated as puppets by puppeteers coming in an impressive array of shapes and sizes.

It opens with our heroine, Miranda, being washed up on an island where strange shapes move amidst the trees, a cross between Treasure Island without the pirates, and Jurassic Park without the jeopardy. Miranda, enthusiastically and warmly played by Danielle Stagg, soon makes friends with her new companions including a Giraffatitan, Triceratops, Segnosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, and gives them names, instantly humanising them for the young audience.

The puppet dinosaurs convince, as does the movement and vocalisation of the puppeteers, and before long not only has Miranda made friends with the creatures, but so have the audience, as awestruck youngsters are invited on stage to help look after them. But it is not just the lucky few invited on stage who are involved, so is the whole audience who are invited to sing a lullaby to send a baby dinosaur to sleep and alert Miranda of the impending hatching of an egg. Cleverly we are lulled into a false sense of security as a precursor to the highlight of the show, the arrival of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, announced by the dimming of lights and an ominous growl.

Director and writer Derek Bond has done a good job at providing light entertainment for young children, whilst also weaving in some sound natural history to educate as well. There were times when Miranda spoke too quickly to be readily understood, and sometimes the natural history was  beyond the school age audience. But at  fifty minutes it engages, without outstaying its welcome and the large, lifelike dinosaurs are the stars.. Jacob, aged three, and Harry aged five, loved it.  Continues on national tour.

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