REVIEW: Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish, Roustabout Theatre (Arts Depot)

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Michael Foreman’s classic story Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish, a cautionary tale about environmental destruction which remains as relevant as ever. Back in the 2021 lockdown, Roustabout Theatre adapted the popular picture book into a three part online series. They’re now back with a live stage version of the story, which is out on an Autumn tour following an Edinburgh Fringe run. We caught this fun family production on its stop at Arts Depot last weekend.

Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish tells the tale of a man on a mission to see the stars, who leaves a devastating trail of destruction in his wake as he attempts to achieve his dreams. Thankfully, the dinosaurs who lie dormant deep underground wake in time to clear up man’s mess and restore Earth to the paradise of their era. Performed by a trio of actor-musicians (with Roustabout regulars Robin Hemmings and Shaelee Rooke joined by Oliver de Rohan), it’s a great adaptation which gets the important environmental message across in an entertaining way.

Robin Hemmings, Shaelee Rooke and Oliver de Rohan. Photo credit: Craig Fuller

As we said in our review of the online production, Roustabout are brilliant at adapting their shows for a different medium, meaning they managed to create something online that they would not be able to directly replicate if the audience were in the room. So it’s no surprise that they have created something very fresh now that they are able to perform in front of live audiences again. Even if you have already seen the online version (which you can still watch on YouTube) the new production is very different, with the live music and audience interaction making it an even more engaging experience. (Poor Shaelee Rooke got more than she bargained for when asking for dance move suggestions, but valiantly attempted Quaver’s directions to perform a step ball change followed by a paradiddle!) Improved costumes and the addition of an extra cast member are also positive changes for this version.

Robin Hemmings, Shaelee Rooke and Oliver de Rohan. Photo credit: Craig Fuller

Filled with the trademark Roustabout humour that made their 2020 production Luna such a success, it probably works for a slightly wider age range than the online version (which we thought was better for younger children). It’s recommended for ages 3 to 12 but will likely suit those towards the middle of that age range best. Quaver (nearly 9) was far more keen to get involved in all the interactive elements than Crotchet (10 going on 13), who tried her best to pretend she was too old for family shows, even though she kept accidentally breaking into laughter! Mummy enjoyed it too, and still has the catchy song stuck in her head several days later.

Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish is another entertaining and thought-provoking production from Roustabout, who once again live up to their company motto of producing “silly, stirring, inspiring stuff”. Check out the tour schedule to see whether the dinosaurs will be stomp-stomping to a venue near you this Autumn.

Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish played at Arts Depot on Sunday 11 September 2022. We received complimentary press tickets to the 2pm performance.