Fringe review: Terrific little show goes far beyond dinosaurs

The Times Colonist is covering the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival, running to Aug. 31. All ratings are out of five.

What: Paleoncology

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Where: Downtown Activity Centre

When: Aug. 24, 25, 30, 31

Rating: 4.5

Essentially, Paleoncology is a young woman in a dinosaur suit talking about her brother. Sounds kooky.

It’s actually a terrific little show. Kira Hall, who wrote and performs it, plays the girl in the green and yellow dino suit. We learn we loved dinosaurs as a child. Years later, when her adored brother gets cancer, the protagonist — unable to move forward — reverts to her childhood (hence the costume).

The plot sounds ripe for melodrama and sentimentality, yet Paleoncology mostly stays clear of that. Potential gooeyness is undercut by Hall’s rather dry, sardonic humour. Her heroine is a likeable, super-smart misfit who observes the world wearily, but not without hope.

Structurally, the show is ambitious. Hall acts some scenes out with dinosaur dolls used as puppets. Paleoncology is also part lecture; info-nuggets on dinosaurs are dispensed with overhead projector accompaniment.

It all works very well. Hall’s a fine writer; the script is a superior one. She’s a good actor as well. Saturday’s performance was detailed and nuanced, capturing the play's bittersweet and satirical (think J.D. Salinger) tone.

Sharply observed, Paleoncology is a funny, entertaining and touching look at how families work — and sometimes fail to work.

More Fringe coverage HERE

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