REVIEW: Dinopocalypse (Ruckus Brisbane)

Image credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Ruckus has created an interactive and immersive theatre experience combining spoken word, dance, physical theatre, and, of course, dinosaurs.

The experience of Dinopocalypse began before we reached the venue, with the Facebook event page containing messages from Dinocorp. Patrons were greeted at the door by Dinocorp’s experts, palaeontologists, and dinosaur translators, and were able to mingle with them at the bar and ask questions about the facility prior to the presentation. 

Everyone was separated into groups, led by a Dinocorp guide, and the facility tours began.
Parts of the theatre experience do take place outside, so dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. After viewing and experiencing some of the dinosaur habitats and behaviours, the audience were brought back together to ask questions – what did the dinosaurs eat? Why had they come to the surface? What was Dinocorp doing to help them?

The cast and crew did a stellar job of managing a deliberately unpredictable performance and made full use of the theatre space, with settings and props changed seamlessly while the audience was elsewhere. All cast members could confidently answer audience questions about the dinosaurs, their history, habitat, behaviours, etc., costuming was excellent, and lighting and sound were used to great effect.

The physical theatre performed by the three dinosaurs, in particular, was exceptional, and their interaction with the audience was thoughtful and thought-provoking. The show’s promotional material labels it “Jurassic Park meets Manus Island” and while it did explore ideas of assimilation and civilisation, the dinosaurs were presented as the ‘other’ in a way that left the audience unsure. In a theatre, we believe what the performers tells us – if you tell me that person is a dinosaur, I believe you. Dinopocalypse allowed the audience question this process, and gave the opportunity for those questions to be asked and acted upon.

Speaking to others after the show, it became clear that different groups were shown different sides of Dinocorp, some aligning the dinosaurs more closely with current socio-political issues e.g. no one in the room could pass the ‘assimilation test’, and its difficulty kept increasing. I interpreted the show as a commentary on zoo culture and animal abuse, but that’s the beauty of this kind of theatre – everyone takes away something different from the experience.

Dinopocalypse is showing at Backbone Youth Arts, East Brisbane, on May 9, 11, 16 & 18 from 7pm. Read more and book tickets on their event page. 

Review of May 11 performance.