Dinosaurs existed. Common knowledge, a fact that we take for granted. This was not always the case. In fact before Charles Darwins’ On the origin of species, the majority of the population were Christian, many were Young Earth Creationists, the church held power and influence and even the idea of big reptiles was blasphemy. The earth was 6,000 years old. End of story.
It is this journey that Dinomania unravels for us with humour, melodrama, a talented ensemble and the most incredible devised live soundtrack from Zac Gvirtzman. Shows with a lot of scientific and historical facts to impart can be in danger of overwhelming the audience with an information overload. Dinomania circumvents this by centring and intersecting the overarching story with that of Gideon Mantell, played captivatingly by Janet Etuk. We learn about the man history overlooked, his sacrifices and the greater importance his discovery of a giant tooth would play in our understanding of dinosaurs today.
An ensemble piece where all the characters remain on stage throughout can draw comparisons to A-level drama territory. There are moments of this in Dinomania, mostly in the opening narration. The balance between fact and theatre is well-navigated but it does come at the expense of greater depth in the character development of Gideon Mantell. As a result, the audience doesn’t feel a later betrayal and subsequent twist as deeply as it could. However the use of props, space and the strength of the entire cast carries the story through.
Dinomania will definitely leave you looking at the Natural History Museum with fresh eyes.