Bristol Theatre Reviews

Review: Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish at The Wardrobe Theatre

  • Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish brings young audience members an important message through heartwarming and joyful theatre

Youngsters aged around three years are some of theatre’s biggest critics. They often vote with their feet or mouths when they’ve lost concentration and their attention moves elsewhere.

There was none of this at The Wardrobe Theatre this morning. Its auditorium was packed full of families whose youngsters were enthralled by the show. Cheery chuckles rang out from the darkness. Rhetorical questions from dinosaurs on stage responded to with the gravitas of barristers in court.

Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish is a book by author Michael Foreman. It has been adapted for the stage – with brilliant success – by Bristol’s Roustabout Theatre.

A strong relevant story-line and high-quality songwriting underpin the show, which is performed with warmth by actor-musicians Oliver de Rohan, Robin Hemmings and Shaelee Rooke. All knew exactly how to entertain children, delighting them with their engaging performances.

A clever set forms from large puzzle blocks. The highly anticipated arrival of the dinosaurs sees the actors utilise fun headpieces in keeping with the spirit of the book. And watch out for the ingenious diplodocus puppet, a surprise at the end.

The premise of the show is simple – A man standing on a tree sees a star in the sky but he cannot reach it. In his attempts to build a rocket to do so, he destroys Earth. Whilst flying to space, dinosaurs sleeping deep under the planet’s surface are awakened. Horrified to see the destruction around them, they work together to save the planet. When the man returns, the dinosaurs must decide whether the man will be allowed back – with a little help from a young audience who were split 50/50 on forgiveness versus zero tolerance on climate destruction.

The show cleverly handles complex themes around climate change and ethical decision making in ways that small children can understand. It’s also pleasing to see Makaton incorporated into choreography, making this a naturally accessible feature of the show.

Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish is a high-energy show with foot-tapping tunes and an important take-home message for children. A brilliant way to spend an hour this Easter holiday.

The show is on at The Wardrobe Theatre until 12 April 2023.

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