Theater Review: "Triassic Parq" Off-Broadway
The show opens with our narrator, Morgan Freeman (played with a great deal of irony by the rather Caucasian Lee Seymour) explaining the origins of the Triassic Parq, a park quite similar to a certain Michael Crichton creation, but with more self-awareness. The inhabitants of the Parq, dinosaurs reconstituted from nine parts dino DNA and one part frog genes, are introduced: The Velociraptors of Faith and Innocence (Wade McCollum and Alex Wyse, respectively), two T-Rexes who are working on their anger management issues (Shelley Thomas and Claire Neumann), and Mime-a-saurus (Brandon Espinoza), a mute jack-of-all-trades dinosaur who functions as a funnier version of The Mute from "The Fantasticks."
In this small colony, where the laboratory is esteemed as a deity by the dino priestess (McCollum), the scientists decided to only create females in order to control the population. There's only one small problem: some of the dinosaurs have inherited a mutation in their frog DNA that enables hermaphroditism (an actual phenomenon). When one of the T-Rexes discovers she has a penis, it becomes clear that the quiet way of life in Triassic Parq has changed forever. In need of answers, the young Velociraptor of Innocence ventures out into the world to seek advice from the mysterious outcast, the Velociraptor of Truth (Lindsay Nicole Chambers).
The show, which was written by Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo, is an entertaining and quirky look at the plight of trans* dinosaurs—and, by extension, gives the audience a peek at what it is like for a human to deal with gender identity issues in a society that is only used to binary (or unitary, as the case may be) expressions of gender. As a cis-woman, I don't think I can speak to how effectively or truthfully it does so, but it seemed to be a sensitive and entertaining (yet not mocking) look at trans* life.
Wyse and Chambers, who were delightful in last season's "Lysistrata Jones," are just as charming here. Wyse in particular has a much greater chance to shine, and shows off some powerful vocal and comedic chops. He is well-supported by the rest of the strong cast, especially the wildly funny Espinoza as the Mime-a-saurus. Pailet, who directs the show in addition to writing it, does a great job of creating a very realized world out of very little. While the book is a tad inelegant, it is redeemed by the power pop-rock score and Kyle Mullins' effective choreography.
In a culture that seems to have considerable difficulty creating genuinely funny content about sensitive issues (see: the Daniel Tosh incident), "Triassic Parq" is a refreshing experience that is both hilarious and—dare I say it?—politically correct.