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Review: TRIASSIC PARQ at Tower Grove Abbey

Love Conquers Extinction in Stray Dog Theatre's Rowdy Triassic Parq

Review: TRIASSIC PARQ at Tower Grove Abbey

Dinosaurs, live, love and learn in Stray Dog Theatre's, uproariously silly Triassic Parq.

Using the 1993 film with a similar name as a template, the second production of Stray Dog Theatre's 2022 season is a relentlessly entertaining character exploration about a group of dinosaurs whose lives are about to change.

Set on an island off the coast of Costa Rica, the plot centers around a group of genetically created dinosaurs who go about their daily lives without much unrest. In general, they live disciplined lives.

The close-knit group of mundane dinosaurs is guided by the Velociraptor of Faith, a religious zealot with absolute power and a strong distaste for science and change. Worshipping "The Lab," the mysterious place where they were created, the Velociraptor of Faith is unmoved by things that challenge his faith. This belief system puts him in direct conflict with the Velociraptor of Science, whom he has banished and branded as a heathen.

However, his tranquility is interrupted when T-Rex-2 suddenly grows an appendage and switches genders. The change is caused by the use of frog DNA in the engineering process.

Compounding the dino trouble is a gender-bending love triangle that makes things awkward and weird. T-Rex 1's best friend, T-Rex 2, also known as Kaitlyn, is confused by the distance that has grown between herself and her best friend.

Their rift climaxes after Kaitlyn learns that T-Rex 2, has developed feelings for the Velociraptor of Innocence. As romance blossoms, the normalcy of life on the island is ruptured, causing chaos, mayhem, and fits of rage.

Meanwhile, as the relationship drama intensifies, so does the struggle between science and religion. As the Velociraptor of Faith and the Velociraptor of Science clash over ideologies, they risk the welfare of their community.

The Velociraptor of Faith doesn't accept that nature will find a way. He simply refuses to believe that dinosaurs with frog DNA can change gender. In the meantime, The Velociraptor of Science stands her ground, arguing that he is a hypocrite for not accepting other lifestyles and viewpoints.

Eventually, angst, jealousy, and drama come to a boil after the dinosaurs discover that humans are visiting Triassic Parq. Unhappy their home has unwelcome visitors, the T-Rex's and velociraptors become aggressive.

The humor is relentless in this finely tuned musical. Accompanied by a rocking beat, Justin Been's production is hysterically sardonic. Not for the timid and genteel, Triassic Parq's raunchy and nasty tone coats a story of friendship, change, and acceptance.

Dazzling onstage is Laurel Stevenson, a strongly voiced performer who pulls double duty as the production's tragic narrator Morgan Freeman and the Velociraptor of Science. She opens the show with a rapid-fire account of the events leading up to the production's setting.

Silent but comedically deadly is Bryce Miller as the Mime-A-Saurus. Using pantomime to underscore the show's funnier moments, his comedic timing marks his welcome return to the Stray Dog Theatre.

It takes a great actor to pull off being a villain. Michael Wells does just that as the Velociraptor of Faith. Beneath his headstrong religious zealot is a character resistant to change who is afraid to adapt to the times.

Tristan Davis is a burst of energy as the Velociraptor of innocence. Working within the confined space of a show that relishes in not taking itself seriously, Davis gives his lovelorn dinosaur a sense of playful mischief.

Also excellent is Dawn Schmid as Kaitlyn. Looking like the dino that went to the '80s mall, she plays the jilted best friend to the hilt, giving the production some of its best laughs.

While the entire ensemble of Triassic Parq is tremendous, it's Rachel Bailey's show. Brassy and fierce, she gives the musical some emotional heft as she searches for acceptance and a sense of self.

Her journey of transformation, though riddled with laughs and a cascade of expletives, is powerful and provocative. Giving audiences a velociraptor that is vulnerable and vicious, she is riveting onstage.

Performed without an intermission, Triassic Parq is a bracingly devious masterpiece of mindless fun. Pulling no punches, it is surprisingly emotional. Amidst the full throttle of laughs and satire of Triassic Parq is a story about loving without fear that transforms an iconic piece of popular culture into something rich and textured.

While the dinosaurs of Triassic Parq are emotionally damaged and prone to violence, they aren't quite the brutal killing machines seen in the film.

After being resurrected from extinction, they embrace every moment of their lives as they feel the pulse of life's joys and mysteries before mankind comes along and changes everything.

Triassic Parq at Tower Grove Abbey through April 30th. For tickets and more information visit

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From This Author - Rob Levy

Rob Levy is a St. Louis based writer, blogger, DJ and podcaster with extensive experience writing about theatre, opera, health, science, tech and popular culture for St. Louis Magazine, ALIVE ... (read more about this author)

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