REVIEW (From a distance): Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish (Watermans and Roustabout Theatre)

One man’s passionate dream to reach the stars leaves the world in ruins. Can the dinosaurs sleeping deep under its surface wake and save Planet Earth?

There may have been limited opportunities for face to face theatre in the last year, but that hasn’t stopped Bristol based, family theatre specialists Roustabout from doing their thing. From adapting A Christmas Carol for a live, online (and summertime!) performance in (It’s Not All) Zoom and Gloom to improvising via Zoom in The Great Big (Online) Story Mix Up, they have consistently been looking for new and exciting ways to bring high quality, family friendly theatre into homes (as well as putting on the odd in person event during the brief interlude when such things were allowed last year!) You can read more about what they’ve been up over the last year in their guest blog here. But before that, keep on reading to hear what we thought about their latest online offering…..

This time Roustabout have teamed up with Watermans to bring Michael Foreman’s classic picture book Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish to the screen in a free YouTube series filled with songs, puppetry and animation. Using, green screen technology to bring the classic book illustrations to life alongside performers Shaelee Rooke and Robin Hemmings, it’s a great example of what Roustabout have done well during the pandemic – Instead of just sticking a stage show on screen, they fuse together film and theatre to create something that couldn’t be directly replicated if the audience were in the room. Just like Foreman’s classic book (and dinosaurs!) this makes for a piece of work with enduring appeal, rather than a stop-gap solution to not being able to go to the theatre in person.

Shaelee Rooke and Robin Hemmings

It’s broken down into three short episodes, making it suitable for short attention spans, but it’s easy enough to watch in a single sitting as the episodes load one after the other on YouTube. There is also an accompanying online activity pack, giving you the option to do some fun and educational activities. The environmental theme (plus space and dinosaurs!!) makes it a great resource to tie in with school projects, and we can see the short episodes plus activity pack working really well in a classroom across several lessons. Although aimed at ages 3-11, we’d suggest that it is probably most suited to early years and KS1 children as it has a bit of a CBeebies feel to it. Quaver (age 7) really enjoyed it and sang along enthusiastically to Robin Hemmings’ catchy dinosaur song. She would very happily have sat through many more episodes too!

Whether you have a household full of Foreman fans / dinosaur devotees / mini Greta Thunbergs or are just looking for something fun and engaging to keep the kids quiet for half an hour, we totally recommend checking out Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish. We’ve even been nice popped the first episode below for you so all you need to do is click play!……..