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REVIEW: Jurassic Live at Inverness Leisure was absolutely roar-some

By Andrew Dixon

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Scary T-Rex.
Scary T-Rex.

There’s only one word that sums up Jurassic Live: roar-some.

As a family man, with two wee ones who love Go Diego Go! (I know it’s an ageing noughties cartoon, and a happy spin-off to Dora the Explorer, but this is where they first encountered dinosaurs) we could miss this opportunity.

Since catching their imagination, my wee ones have seen people dressed in dinosaur outfits (like the ones some folk do fundraising runs in), they’ve watched dinosaur films (The Good Dinosaur has to be the favourite), they’ve read books, they’ve got toys and they’ve seen what Landmark In Carrbridge has to offer.

And while Landmark’s Dinosaur Kingdom is unbeatable, Jurassic Live was simply top class.

We’d seen another dinosaur-themed stage show and it was a little bit like the dinosaurs were from Robot Wars in that they were impressive and moved around while doing stuff but Jurassic Live takes it up a notch.

With that previous experience in mind, I went along expecting something similar.

What we got blew me away. There was all the terrific dinosaurs (many of them operated with people inside) but also a proper storyline with drama and suspense, singing, dancing and audience interaction pretty much throughout.

Although it was in the main sports hall at Inverness Leisure, it wouldn’t have looked out of place on the main stage at Eden Court.

Staging, music, lighting and pyro made you momentarily forget you were somewhere which wasn’t really designed for this.

The mixed-age audience all seemed to enjoy it, especially the younger ones who were more likely to suspend any disbelief.

The dinosaur puppets were incredibly impressive. I’ll admit I don’t know a lot about dinosaurs and I have no idea if any of them were life-size – if not, I guess it could have been a baby T-Rex (they certainly look more to scale at Landmark, but again, I’m no paleontologist). However, that mattered not, because they did the job and helped tell the story, while also being the perfect props for teachable moments as the audience were fed dinosaur facts.

Ranger Joe was among those firing out dinosaur facts during the performance.
Ranger Joe was among those firing out dinosaur facts during the performance.

And while the dinosaurs were the attraction, the people involved are the real stars.

Without giving too much away, the story centres on a little girl called Amber who loves dinosaurs. She has all the show’s merch (at least one of each of the stuffed dinosaurs you can buy) and is playing with them before bedtime.

Enter her grandparents, with Grandpa Joe reading her the Jurassic Live storybook that coincidentally features a lost girl called Amber and Ranger called Joe. Amber falls asleep, only to wake up in a dinosaur zoo called Jurassic Live.

She sings a well-known number from The Greatest Showman, before the rangers take to the stage and are the common thread through much of the rest of the show. They introduce us to a number of different dinosaurs, including Nessie the apatosaurus, and tell us about them. There’s audience interaction with dancing and people get a chance to go on stage to feed some dinosaurs.

The story then takes a darker twist with one of the characters (I don’t want to give too much away), selling a baby dinosaur before shooting one of the rangers while trying to take a bigger dinosaur to be sold.

The dramatic scenes close the first half, and after a 20-minute interval, we realise the ranger was the victim of a tranquilliser gun, therefore survived the shooting.

However, the truth is out and so are some of the dinosaurs.

Before heading to the safety bunker, some adult ‘volunteers’ from the audience are dressed as chickens and used as bait (it’s all fine, the “yummy mummies and delicious daddies” escaped through the back gate).

With nobody around, we finally meet T-Rex who is fended off by Bash the stygimoloch.

At the bunker, Amber comes up with a plan and flies off to get help with the aid of a magnificent pterodactyl.

But was it all just a dream as the scene cuts to Amber and Grandpa Joe asleep in her bedroom.

The cast receiving accolades at the end of the show.
The cast receiving accolades at the end of the show.

Another group song, confetti and streamers bring this five-star performance to a fitting finish, seconds before T-Rex sticks its head through the curtain to give everyone one last surprise.

I say surprise because this was packed with them. The talent of those involved was certainly the biggest. The cast could sing, dance and operate their puppets to a impressive standard.

There were thrills, spills (maybe a couple of things didn’t go quite as planned, but it was a live show), comedy and drama. Adults among the crowd could enjoy references to Jurassic Park and Star Wars, while there were tunes made famous by Queen, Sir Elton John, Avicii and Miley Cyrus.

The audience seemed engaged with multiple applauses, jeers for the villains, cheers for the heroes and they were able to dodge some of the water pistol shots sent their direction.

We were transported to another world, one we’d love to return to some day. Perhaps you should go along too.

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