Remember that subplot in Jurassic Park about how the clone dinosaur DNA was augmented with frog DNA, and how some species of frogs can spontaneously change gender, thus providing a semi-plausible excuse for dinosaurs to run around and eat people? Well the team behind Triassic Parq: The musical certainly remember that little piece of exposition, and they have made a whole show about how the dinosaurs must have felt when they spontaneously sprouted penises.
It’s hard to go wrong with a musical about singing transsexual dinosaurs, and Triassic Parq certainly has a lot of fun spoofing the junk science behind Spielberg’s old monster movie while also poking fun at modern musicals too.
The actors aren’t dressed up in dinosaur costumes along the lines of Barney. No, instead they wear brightly-colored dancewear that vaguely implies colorful dino hides. A helpful narrator and plenty of expository dialog hammer home that these people are playing dinosaurs, and that even the male performers are playing females.
That narrator is the source of many recurring jokes, he’s Morgan Freeman, although everyone in the cast constantly mistakes him for Samuel L. Jackson, even though he’s played by the Caucasian Lee Seymour. He breaks the fourth wall relentlessly, as do other members of the cast, and the show even goes so far as to seat ten audience members right onstage where they are harassed by dinosaurs throughout the show.
The cast is excellent, with standouts being Brandon Espinoza as the “Mime-a-saurus” who provides silent dance and humor. Claire Neuman and Shelley Thomas also give a great turn as a pair of T-Rexes who find themselves in a confusing love affair when one of them sprouts a T—rection.
In the early parts of Triassic Parq, it focuses on poking fun at the convoluted plot of Jurassic Park, and the many foolish decisions that the characters had to make in order for the dino rampage to happen in the film. Yet as the show progresses it disregards the events of the film and begins to focus on what must have been going on among the dinosaurs when the humans weren’t around.
There’s a pinch of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the premise, but mostly Triassic Parq is concerned with lampooning modern rock musicals as a genre. It’s deliberately formulaic, hitting every predictable note right on cue, and following the “Hero’s Journey” format to the letter.
Our young velociraptor heroine (Alex Wyse) suspects that the world is much larger than the traditional ways of her tribe and defies the superstitious clan leader (Wade McCollum) to venture forth into a world of science in the hope of answering questions like “Where do the penises come from?”
It’s all very absurd and is usually quite funny. The lyrics have some terrific moments, such a rhyming “Species” with “He/Shes”. Despite the considerable humor, the story is insubstantial. This is the book writers (Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Stephen Wargo) deliberately commenting on the flimsy formulaic nature of many musicals and their forced happy endings, yet it isn’t very biting satire or in-depth deconstruction.
A much more enthusiastic form of deconstruction is seen in the Playbill. It’s an issue of the Weekly World News but filled entirely with spoof articles about Jurassic Park, including a reference to the producers of the show suing Michael Crichton for stealing their ideas!
Even once the program reaches the cast list the satire continues with a pretentious description of the roles, and absurd Director’s Note, and a warning that the show has no intermission, “So get drunk now and make sure you pee”.
Although it doesn’t hit its subject matter as hard it could, Triassic Parq is still a very fun show. It isn’t the satire that fans of the movie might be hoping for, but it does offer a good time if the concept of transgender dino-clones in a musical sounds appealing.
Triassic Parq: The Musical is currently running at the Soho Playhouse and closes on Sunday August 5th. More information can be found at www.triassicparq.com.