The best children’s theatre gives its intended audience ample entertainment value, fascination with the theatrical art form and hopefully a life lesson that will help them develop into better human beings. The trick is to trying to weave these elements into something that’s easily digestible yet not unsubtle. And using this rubric, Kapitall Kids’ Theatre’s Dino Rock succeeds pretty well.
The ending is a happy one and all is resolved by the end but my biggest takeaway from this production is its confidence in its audience of kids’ moral compass to know right from wrong. Once Snarl starts plotting, I was worried that the show was asking the kids to be complicit in her deceit. It does to an extent, as Snarl is not an out and out villain. But, it knows that its honest audience will call out when they smell something fishy. And call out they do. It is a smart script, but does lend itself to the occasional overreach. The device where the dinos attempt to gather from its audience the whereabouts of a dozing Crash needs to be plotted more cleanly.
The actors are all well-committed to their roles and articulate well despite the masks obstructing their faces (beautifully made by Jonathan Kingston-Smith). Most impressive is how they deftly manoeuvre every audience exclamation. The set is functional, with a tar pit and a volcano as major set pieces. A bit of clever stage magic with the volcano blowing out haze is a nice touch and more of these tricks would definitely be appreciated.
The music is predictably fun and goes over well with the crowd. It’s a shame that the band has to be positioned further upstage in the Gryphon. Perhaps sound levels need to be adjusted to make the show more rocking. Despite this, Michael John Stebbings’ musical direction flows well and really adds punch to the show.
If you’re rearing to take some 3-8 year olds to a good, fun time these school holidays, you can’t really go wrong with Dino Rock which plays at 11am in the Gryphon Thetare and runs till the 23rd of July.