Having just sat through The World According to Dinosaurs, I am sorry to say I can’t really tell you much about the narrative, save for an extinction event. A big part of the reason is the verbiage in the work was frequently drowned out. Frankly, the sound mix was appalling. From the get-go, the narrator was swamped by the music. Thereafter, the sound effects were frequently overwhelming. Then there were occasions when the story line was muffled.
It is a real pity because the sound design by Jack Burmeister, including potent rumbling and thunderclaps, was impressive. Safe to say, the acoustics at La Mama Courthouse don’t lend themselves to this style of performance. And lest you think, I was the only one who saw (and heard) the production that way, another patron approached me after exiting with the same complaint. I sat in the back row, but he was far further forward.
I was all the more disappointed because I noted the enthusiasm of the eight-strong cast. Also worth mentioning is the well-choreographed dance numbers that populate the work. Mind you, the link to the theme of the piece is hardly obvious. I also applaud the set and costuming by Casey Harper-Wood. Events unfold in a café represented by three joining pieces. The two café employees, the manager (Belle Hansen) and her co-worker (Amelia Newman), are kitted out alike. Likewise, the six customers, who come and go. It is an effective device.
In character, Hansen and Newman enjoy some vacuous banter and frustration. Then, out of nowhere, the latter’s knowledge of dinosaurs surprises the former. Still, as climate change takes hold and the end of the world nears, people go about their daily business. The manager even finds time for awkward romantic encounters with a café patron (Michael Cooper). Although clearly dealing with a heavy topic, writers Hansen and Newman bring liberal lashings of humour to the fore – much of which, again, I could not make out.
I can’t say I have witnessed sound issues as significant and consistent as they are in The World According to Dinosaurs in any production I have seen before. They render the intent of this play – perhaps a cautionary tale – all but redundant. If addressed, it will certainly make The World According to Dinosaurs more accessible, but still obtuse. Directed by Cassandra Gray, it is playing at La Mama Courthouse until 4th June, 2023.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Motherlod_^e (Frenzy Theatre Company) – theatre review
- Cactus (La Mama)
- One and the Other (La Mama) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.