The Dinosaur Within by John Walsh is the latest offering at Boston Court. Walsh is a playwright new to me but his plays have been produced by the Marc Taper Forum, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, The Edinburgh Festival, and Urban Stages Off Broadway. This is his first play for Boston Court and for director Michael Michetti.. I found it to be a mixed bag.
The plot centers on a young boy, Tommy, played by precocious Ari Skye who has beautiful big eyes. He tells the audience that he has a dinosaur within. The image of the dinosaur is present in the set as well; the audience left consists of a raised platform that resembles a dig site with encased dinosaur bones underneath. The mystery of the piece is in what the boy is getting at.
On the other side of the stage sits an old Hollywood star (the luminous Mimi Cozzens) in a wheelchair bemoaning her lost fame; underneath her, again
encased, are impressions of stars’ autographs and shoe prints as they appear in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Oh, I get it; she is a kind of dinosaur herself.
Above these is another level made of dirt where an old Aboriginal father lives. He wants to find the missing dinosaur footprints stolen by an archeologist Another reference to dinosaurs.
It becomes clear early on that the boy is missing, perhaps dead, and his father (Chuck McCollum) starts digging in his backyard over the objections of his wife (Rebecca Tilney in one of several roles). The boy disappeared far away from the backyard. But the father finds parts of the boy’s bike (dino bones) and solves the question of what happened to their son.
Along the way we meet the star’s daughter (an earnest Shauna Bloom), the younger version of the star (the lovely Emily Kosloski), and the Aboriginal son (a rather goofy VJ Kesh). A few of the minor characters are played by Scott Alan Smith, who was my favorite because he was funny, created different personae, and was basically a good actor.
More happens as the plot unravels but it was too scattered a plot and the characters more caricatures than people. In any case I figured out most of the story before intermission. The actors did a fine job, the sets by Francois-Pierre Couture were well designed to encompass the many locales, and Michael Michetti did a good job of trying to make the whole thing work. But sadly, mainly because of the play, I wasn’t involved. The themes of lost youth, aspirations, dreams, and the necessity to change and adjust to survive might have been better served in a simpler manner. The Dinosaur Within will play at the