This week sees the return of TakeOver Festival to the York Theatre Royal after a brief interlude in the National Railway Museum. The multi-arts festival aims to cater for all, whilst being run exclusively by 12 to 26 year olds interested in pursuing futures in the arts.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party on Monday, which despite almost reaching capacity was a slickly run event festooned in various decoration and featuring a number of entertainments; including a set from Holy Moly & the Crackers, a song written by a young TakeOver volunteer and a photo booth in which donned a highly questionable sheep mask.
Enthused by this I sat down to watch my first performance of the week, Dinosaur Park – one that carried a certain expectation due to its sell-out season in London and at Edinburgh Fringe last summer. Also, it was a friend’s birthday celebration so I hoped it would deliver. That it certainly did.
Dinosaur Park tells the story of the Park family as they try to recreate the film of their past, Jurassic Park in homage to their mother. Having lost the tape intended for the memorial screening at Lyme Regis Community Centre they are forced to act out the story using whatever is available – cue lights, beatboxing, remote control helicopters, interesting dance moves and a glass of water wobbling on top of a torch.
The performance was hilarious – a tad cheesy at times but still kept the audience in stitches. The mixture of what can only be described as dinosaur inspired interpretative dance and character impressions, interspersed with the family squabbles of the Parks worked well, keeping it fast paced and engaging. The stroppy teenager tantrums from both father and children did justice to the absurdity of divorced family life. Minus the dinosaurs obviously. Frode Gjerløw particularly shone as clueless dad Terry, often prompting a chuckle from the audience just through the gusto of his dancing
Although set and cast was kept to a minimum, the action revolving mostly around a small square of stage, the actors weren’t afraid to engage the audience by climbing around the auditorium throughout the show and popping in to chat in character before the show started and during the interval. At this point I have to mention the Lyme Regis accents and offer applause – as a West Country lass meself I have to say they were well lush.
As the re-enactment revolved around the one year anniversary of the death of Maddy Park, you could be worried that this performance could have a tendency to air on the mushy side. Whilst the performance featured genuinely teary moments of the days before Maddy’s death and coping with bereavement, it managed to hit the right level of nostalgia and kept the overall message light with cuts back to dinosaur choreography. One of the cleverest aspects of Dinosaur Park was its ability to cut seamlessly between the film plot and poignant family moments without losing from either.
I challenge even those with no sense of humour to sit through Dinosaur Park without laughing. However, I would possibly suggest boning up by re-watching Spielberg’s version of Jurassic Park beforehand – it might make some of the action a little easier to follow.