Regional Reviews: St. Louis
Also see Richrd's review of Hand to God
The authors (Mr. Pailet wrote the music, and collaborated with Messrs. Norbitz and Wargo on the book and lyrics) did not anticipate the recent ferment over transgender rights in America, when their work premiered at the New York Fringe Festival in 2010. But if their aspirations had been any higher than lowly parody, they might have treated their characters with some particle of respect, or dimensionality, and inadvertently have created a fine modern musical that would speak to the matter through sheer decency and idealism.
Sadly, Triassic Parq relies on a series of half-hearted penis jokes, in a colony of female dinosaurs. (In the first Jurassic Park movie, chaos ensues when some of the lab-generated dinosaurs develop male characteristics and go on to reproduce without human control.) Triassic Parq should have landed on the ash-heap of history, but gets a lavish revival here, under the direction of Justin Been.
Indeed, if any dinosaur on stage here ever wonders if they might be a different gender, deep inside, than the one they were outwardly born to, that moment passes so fleetingly as to be inconsequential. Nor do any of them face any notable obstacle to changing sex. Nor do they bravely carry on with their heartfelt readjustments, demanding the world make room for them. In 2022, Triassic Parq already seems prehistoric at its core.
Still, the cast sings very well, and gives us the last full measure of what is, essentially, a 90-minute comedy sketch. Rachel Bailey and Dawn Schmid are innocent girlfriend/dinosaurs, though one of them will suddenly develop a large comical phallus. And Tristan Davis is ideal for the power ballad idiom as a young velociraptor who must track down his origins. Michael Wells is a real trooper as the religious leader of the dinosaur park, with Laurell Stevenson a delight in several roles, including that of an exiled dinosaur with a hidden truth. Bryce Miller rounds out the cast as a comical "mime-a-saurus," with nice physical comedy throughout.
Triassic Parq runs through April 30, 2022, at the Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Avenue, St. Louis MO. For tickets and information visit www.straydogtheatre.org.
Cast (in order of appearance):