Whether or not you’ve read the wonderful children’s book by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Russell Ayto, this is a story to make you smile (it is also a completely different story to the book so don’t neglect the bookshop if you think you need some pirate dinosaurs in your life). Les Petits (child of the acclaimed parent company Les Enfants Terribles) dazzle with the expected energy and style.
“Such marvellous invention so effectively performed”
The cast each play several characters; the pirate dinosaurs are played by various actors at different moments as the scene demands. Costume changes are therefore swift but effectively coordinated. The plot is packed with twists and turns, sausages, magic and sword fights. The pre-set consisted of one of the actors joining the audience (in characters as the class teacher), chatting to the younger members of the crowd and getting acquainted with their parents.
The puppets and masks in this show are awesome. Most impressive is the 7ft body puppet of Mr T. the T-Rex, whose mere presence on stage (he takes up half of it) is enough to widen the eyes of the least engaged audience member. Giant tails (articulated like those wooden toy snakes that slither realistically if you hold them by the tail) made of foam thwack across the small stage. Diplo the Diplodocus is the main culprit for this. My favourite pirate dinosaur by far, Diplo’s tail must be nearing two metres long. This charming character and gentle giant wears a nightcap and an eye patch and is not the sharpest talon on the ship.
My personal favourite scene took place underwater and featured shadow puppets, rod puppets and four gorgeous jellyfish puppets (upturned bowls with feathery dendrites protruding beneath). The puppeteers made a popping noise as they floated in mid air. This was on the way to the Fishco-tec at the Disco-wreck where DJ Octopus spins his records – such marvellous invention so effectively performed!
At the end of the show one young chap, encouraged by his father, approached the stage where the actors were taking down the elaborate set and one by one, placed three toy dinosaurs on the stage. Each of the nearby actors payed due respect and attention to his treasured possessions and the proud young man beamed. It was gorgeous. The cast have the perfect mixture of energy and gentleness for a children’s show.
I only wish I could watch this as an eight-year-old and see it through a child’s eyes.
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutless runs at Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance One at 10:45am until 19th August.
Image: Gail Harland