Who's a pretty boy then? Titus, placated by Danielle Stagg as Miranda, adds a little weight

and no small amount of terror to proceedings

Dinosaur World

Coventry Belgrade


Call me old fashioned, but I am a great believer in the idea that the best reviewers of shows aimed at children are, well, children.

You see, adults think they know what children like, while children actually do know, and my six-year-old grandson, with more than 30 shows under his belt already, the advantage of a grandad critic, decided this was worth a 10, which as we only go up to five, was perhaps a bit of overkill, but you get the idea.

And, let’s be honest, anyone who can keep my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson equally enthralled for 55 minutes will always get my vote.

Children are fascinated by the whole idea of dinosaurs and while older grandson listened to the accompanying story, younger grandson watched with interest and growled a greeting enthusiastically, as he does with his own toy dinosaurs, when Tamara, the tiny, baby T-Rex appeared, tiny being a relative term when it comes Tyrannosaurus Rex.

But he duly sank back into the safety of grandad when the impressively large, stage filling and rather fierce full grown Titus appeared, laughing excitedly when he left. He loved every minute, even the scary bits.

Danielle Stagg plays Miranda, our host, who tells a tale of being shipwrecked on a mysterious island where dinosaurs still roamed and carried the kids with her, and held their attention for the whole show, which is no easy task, as anyone who has tried entertaining a theatre full of kids for an hour - and survived - will tell you.

So Miranda introduces us first to Juliet the Segnosaurus, who had to be persuaded to eat her leaves by a volunteer from the audience.

Then there was Orlando, the Microraptor, a four-winged, feathered dinosaur and Beatrice the Triceratops oh, and don’t forget the Giraffatitan egg, which has been waiting to hatch for a year and might just hatch in the show if we were lucky.

No prizes for guessing it does, but kids are not as savvy as adults, to them this was all real and their luck was in. We even saw the egg’s mum Gertrude, just her head mind, as at about 85 ft (26 metres) long that is probably as much as she could get through the door.

And all the time volunteers were brought up from the audience to feed, brush or whatever was needed with the dinosaur arrivals, except Titus of course, who you suspect, puppet or not, had a penchant for eating small children.

The show is brought to life by the magnificent puppets, designed by Max Humphries and operated quite brilliantly by puppeteers Rafe Young, Rosie Nicholls, Yana Penrose, James Taylor and Emma Thornett.

War Horse showed that an audience could soon ignore puppeteers and see the puppet as the real thing and here the children, and adults, were quickly seeing real dinosaurs, with oohs and ahhs - and scary screams when T-Rex threatened.

The puppets and puppeteers were so good it made it easy to believe, so good in fact that when the audience could meet puppets in the foyer after the show, children still shied away from the realistic T-Rex, Tamara, despite the puppeteer being part of the puppet.

Directed and written by Derek Bond, this might be educational, but above all it is entertainment with showmanship, razzmatazz and spectacular puppets. A magical piece of  theatre for children. To 28-10-17

Roger Clarke


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