The Dinosaur Within Theatre Review- Wrapping up the 2011 Season at Boston Court


“As ever, we hope you enjoy the ride!”, say The Theatre at Boston Court co-artistic directors Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti in their program address introducing their ninth season.  However, their eighth season wrap up show, The Dinosaur Within, which opened this past Saturday, proved no stray from the ride they’ve continued to provide since opening their doors not so long ago.  


As ever, indeed, the production speaks its own theatrical language.  With a hyper-realistic script, design that leaves us feeling equally post-modern as pre-historic, and circumstances that jump from relatable to unbelievable, it’s impossible to walk away and file this play under the usual mental categories.  While the final product falls short of living as a cohesive and polished piece of theatre, the work continues the legacy of Boston Court and affectively challenges the status quo of Los Angeles theatre.

The script follows three primary stories:  an Hollywood star, Miss Wells (Mimi Cozzens), from the golden years, whose career is fading as rapidly as her relationship with her daughter (Shauna Bloom); an Aboriginal elder (VJ Kesh), whose only remaining son (Nic Few) has left him alone in Australia to pursue an acting career inspired by the old movies of Honey Wells (Emily Kosloski); and a family that is still dealing with the aftereffects of the disappearance of their son (Ari Skye), ten years prior.  The play weaves these stories together as it explores themes of human loss, the marks we earthlings (human and animal) leave behind and the evolution of life, personally and collectively.  


The trouble comes first in John Walch's script, which tries too hard to pack itself full of symbols and themes.  So much of the play’s actual dialogue seems mechanical in its composition, leaving the viewer essentially begging for unglorified human relationships.  The result leaves the dramaturge in her glory, while the average theatergoer remains anxious to find a connection beyond the obvious literally techniques.  The play also moves slowly, trapped in a sort of repetitive rhythm that seems the inherent danger of the script.  The scenes failed to breath and by the end of the play their memories feel equal.  It’s hard to say if this is owed to Michetti’s direction or the actors themselves, who maybe through lack of understanding are almost collectively unimpressive.   


Francois-Pierre Couture’s set remains true to the Boston Court esthetic.  It’s impressive in its construction and creative in its design, but it seems altogether impractical.  Trying to give each location its designated home on stage, the set ends up cramping the total space and isolates scenes to laughably tight restrictions.  

Ultimately, the play is a truly unique exploration but its exploration seems to lack a basic human appeal.  In trying to be so much, it ends up being altogether almost nothing because it forgets to bring the viewer in.  


Nevertheless, one can’t help but applaud Boston Court for continuing to take risks and go where no other theatre in Los Angeles seems willing to go.  They are the groundbreakers and pioneers of our west coast theatre world and even their failures seem as vital as their successes.  

The Dinosaur Within opened Saturday, October 8, 2011 and runs though Sunday, November 6, 2011 at:

The Theatre at Boston Court

70 North Mentor Avenue

Pasadena, CA

Thurs-Sat @ 8pm, Sundays @ 2pm

call: 626-683-6883


Photos by: Ed Krieger

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