Review: Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish, Roustabout Theatre
3.0Overall Score

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Roustabout’s online adaptation of Dinosaurs and All that Rubbish takes Michael Foreman’s original children’s book and turns it into a three-part video series which is as delightfully entertaining as it is crafty. For a tale with pollution and burning at its core, it’s an incredibly cheerful production. As humans turn valleys into heaps of rubbish, the cartoon dinosaurs with deep sleepy voices cry out from the rubble.

Robin Hemmings and Shaelee Rooke breathe life behind the animation, interacting with the green screen as its own little world. Scattered throughout the bright storytelling are musical numbers to complement the performance sequences. Hemmings’s scoring is funky and complements the vibrant drawings with flare. Roustabout honours the beloved storybook by placing Foreman’s illustrations at the centre of the work. There’s such joy to be found watching a peach pink rocket ping across the set. This adaptation utilises the rich potential of multiple mediums, combining elements carefully so that video meets theatre meets storybook.

Roustabout have thrown in plenty of details to keep the parents entertained alongside their little ones, such as the rising Star Wars yellow text at the beginning of Episode Two. Every section is cheerful and cheeky with theatrical jokes sprinkled into the writing. I found myself markedly enjoying laughing at the word ‘Poo’ for a good thirty seconds. It’s almost surreal to watch an animated diplodocus leaning over a gentleman and asking, “Whose Paradise?” I enjoy this child-like anti-capitalist narrative which paints the 1% as nothing but a “Silly Man.” Perhaps our only solution to climate disaster truly is the re-emergence of dinosaurs to reset the food chain. Educating children on the state of global warming with a smouldering, swamp green Earth covered in cartoon dinosaurs is certainly one of the more chirpy depictions of the greatest threat to humanity.

Given Foreman’s vivid palette in the book, one would expect the set design to be a little more colourful. The green screen adaptation relies heavily on Foreman’s illustrations to speak for themselves, keeping faithfully true to the original. The duo interact with plastic dinosaurs with the intricacy of puppetry one would expect from a marionette. Rooke bobs about in a cardboard helmet and a yellow raincoat spacesuit, all harkening to the original storybook in real life. I wish there was more attention to detail extended to the dinosaur onesies which were an underwhelming contrast to Robin Hemmings’ double denim look with John Lennon tinted glasses. Greater design emphasis on the costumes could really elevate this piece.

If you’ve got little ones and want them out of your hair for thirty minutes, Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish is a fabulous story of regrowing the Earth following human destruction.

‘Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish’ is available to watch online. For more information see Waterman’s website.