'Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs' – Les Petits Theatre Company
Based on the award-winning book by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto, ‘Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs’ is a title that will appeal to any 4 to 6 year old. Les Petits Theatre Company is a new company launched by Les Enfants Terribles in 2013, and they present an adaptation of the story with a panto-style production that mixes storytelling, singing and some puppet-playing.
The story tells the incredible adventures that Flinn and his friends encounter when their overbearing teacher, panto dame Miss Pie, sends them on a treasure hunt around the school. The clues take them to the art cupboard, where they find Captain Stubble, a pirate who has lost his ship and wants to get it back from the thieving hands of some pirate dinosaurs.
Four actors double up into different roles to deliver a rather confusing and somewhat chaotic succession of events. The action on stage unfolds at a non-stop pace and lines follow each other without pause. One moment the actors are children singing silly songs, the next they are pirates wanting to fight dinosaurs, then they are putting on masks and becoming dinosaurs themselves.
The piece has high production values. The lighting design is well thought out and enhances and sets the atmosphere very well for each scene. The set is cleverly designed, allowing for quick and effective scenery changes that are easily managed by the actors on stage.
Although there are some puppets, they are not a main feature in the show. Some flying sea-gulls and sea animals suspended from rods make a brief appearance in order to visually reinforce and illustrate the story. Although well-crafted, these puppets are very basic. There are also costume puppets worn by the actors when they become the pirate dinosaurs.
Towards the end of the show, the pirate dinosaur captain, a big T-rex puppet with a movable jaw by means of a metal rod, makes a star appearance. Despite being the most interesting puppet, its contribution to the whole production is brief and swift. Both from a design and a manipulation point of view, this giant costume puppet is rather unsophisticated. However, it serves its purpose of bringing an element of spectacle to the production.
'Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs' is a piece of commercial theatre for children that offers an action-packed experience where the young ones can enjoy some fun. However, the production oozes the characteristic hyperactivity we can see in children television shows, and I found I didn’t have a chance to breathe and take the action in. As the dynamics remained the same throughout, I found my attention drifting away from the stage.
'Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs'
Les Petits Theatre Company