Jurassic Park The Musical (Brisbane Arts Theatre) – theatre review

“This performance you are about to witness is unofficial, unauthorised and not at all like the 1993 film”, a start-of-show Jurassic Park The Musical announcement declares. Regardless, like its movie muse, the show begins with a mosquito. From there, however, things detour from the specifics of the science-fiction adventure film, to delightful comedic effect.

The production is a witty parody of the film, featuring classic scenes being brought to life through song, choreography, and a chorus made up of singing dinosaurs…. That’s right; the dinosaurs sing, dance and fight (which is a hilarious spectacle in itself given how tiny the T-Rex’s arms are). There is even a Bob Fosse inspired routine to the song, ‘Its Vision is Based on Movement’. Although there are perhaps not as many numbers as a typical musical, this is probably a good thing as (despite the band’s decent job) while together performer’s voices harmonise quite well in ensemble numbers like ‘Welcome to Jurassic Park’, individually their vocals are inconsistent in range from its first screechy song about DNA, not helped by a lack of consistency in in microphone levels.

The script in often very clever, filled with a jumble of humorous allusions left hanging for in-the-know audience member appreciation – such as a Seinfeld theme accompaniment to the first appearance of Wayne Knight’s (the show’s Newman nemesis) disgruntled and corrupt computer systems programmer character and the pass of a packet of Snakes Alive to the park’s chief engineer, played in the film by Samuel L Jackson. However, at other times, dialogue could be edited for effect to avoid the lulls in engagement that come due to enough-already sibling banter between the park’s founder, John Hammond’s grandchildren Timmy and Alexis.

Similarly, multi-scenes work well in some instances to share action that occurs concurrently at different places throughout on the island where the billionaire philanthropist Hammon and a small team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs, but sometimes continue on well past appreciation to distraction, such as a too-long ride around a passing-by park in makeshift (cardboard) vehicles.

As a parody, the characters are presented more as caricatures, with enhanced flaws and over-the-top idiosyncrasies, although there is a great deal of creative license around some of the ages and genders of characters, such as having Samuel L Jackson’s character played by a young girl, Keeley Liddle. Indeed, the youngest cast members deserve much performance praise; Michael Fryer, as the excitable Timmy, is another standout.

It’s a motley crew of characters and the cast do their best to make them come to life. Gabby Carbon delivers consistent energy as paleobotanist Dr Eillie Sattler and director Shaun King wrings every comic possibility from his ocker portrayal of the park’s gamekeeper, Muldoon. Chris Kellett is memorable as the slick but chaotic chaos theorist Dr Ian Malcom, David Harrison coveys a Richard Attenboroughish calm as the park’s creator and, Christopher Crane brings hilarity to Dr Alan Grant’s dry humour and anti-children jibes.

Jurassic Park The Musical is, at is core, a fantastic parody of much potential. Judging by its velociraptuous applause, audience members will find rewarding comfort in its humour.

It’s a bit undergraduate in in tone, and could benefit from a tauter edit, however, it has all the ingredients for a fun night out. And, after all, isn’t the best comedy is supposed to be a bit of a mess?

Company: BAT/Colonel Mustard Theatre Co
Venue: Brisbane Arts Theatre, Petrie Terrace, Brisbane
Dates: 29 January – 24 April 2017

Meredith Walker
For more of Meredith Walker’s theatre reviews, check out Blue Curtains Brisbane.

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