Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dinosaurs as Social Farce

Last night, my friends and I went to see Jurassic Parq the Broadway Musical. Which was chosen from the 2010 Fringe Festival in  New York to have a limited extra run at the Lucille Lortel Theater in the West Village. I did not know what to expect going into the show; my prior knowledge was that the people would be portraying the Jurassic Park dinosaurs. I'm glad it was only an hour and a half long because if it was any longer, I would have busted my laugh box. It was funny!

Highlights of the show included: The main male characters singing, "It's a beautiful day to be a woman"( all the dinosaurs in Jurassic park are women). T-Rex 2, played by a woman, growing a penis and having sex with the Dilophosaurus illustrated by a movie of turtles having sex. T-Rex 2 caught in the act with Dilo  by T-Rex 1 and T-Rex 2 saying, "If we don't move, she can't see us." Mime-a-saurus gaving an outstanding performance in general, but at one point, miming a couple meeting, getting married, having a child, the child growing up, the child going to war and dying, the dad drinking and beating the mom, and ultimately the dad shooting a cop within a song. The narrator, a supposed Morgan Freeman, who has a duet with a mirror image of himself but the mirror image turns out to be Samuel L Jackson.

However, one of the best performances came from the Betty White of the cast, an exiled Velociraptor, The Velociraptor of Science. Who's rap about science was a crowd pleaser. The first three letters had meaning attached to them but the best part of the song was the rousing final line, "The rest of the letters spell, suck my dick!" Not only could she break down in a sweet beat, she was the most committed to her raptor persona and had the most realistic raptor walk. I must add that she had on those sketchers that tone your butt and that cracked me up every time. She assumed the Washington crossing the Delaware/Captain Morgan pose many times, further highlighting the shoes.

But the laughs were not all caused by gags like older women singing, "suck my dick," sex scenes and the clone-like similarities between Samuel l Jackson and Morgan Freeman (they also referenced the guy from the Allstate Insurance commercials); they were caused by great writing that dealt with gender, race and the struggle between religion and science. I'll just touch on gender because I don't want the blog to get too long.

Part of the Director's note reads, "Jurassic Parq the Broadway Musical is brilliant [because]... it is the first broadway musical to be gender blind but color conscious."

Gender blind casting led to great situational humor but underneath this humor, it challenged the viewer's conventional understanding of what it means to be a man or woman (female or male dinosaur), much like Churchill's Cloud 9. For all of us who have seen the movie, I don't have to explain that, all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are supposed to be female. Therefore, this cast should have been female. But to have a female sing, "It's a beautiful day to be a woman," would not have been funny. Instead it is sung by the most masculine male in the cast (playing a female dinosaur) which made me laugh. But after the show, I started to question it meant to be a woman. Is it solely based on physical appearance? I was  laughing because that's how I usually define a man or woman, but couldn't it be based on psyche and how this person (dinosaur) actually feels? I mean, if I'm being honest with my gay self, as soon as that song hits iTunes, I'll be singing along.

Another instance of gender bending begins when T-Rex 2 grows a penis. Who, as I stated, was played by a woman, grows. Which was funny, but more importantly, brought up the logistics of sex change. We know that she and T-Rex 1 are best friends in the beginning but as soon as the change happens, T-Rex 2 sings a song about still being able to be loved as a friend. I think that a lot of people who go through a sex change question the way their friends will see them after. In the end T-Rex 1 sees T-Rex 2 as more than a friend. In fact she falls in love with T-Rex 2. There are many many funny situations built upon this underlying story, like T-Rex 2 discovering what a vagina smells like and being turned on by it, and T-Rex 1 going on a rampage because she finds T-Rex 2 with Dilo, but underneath it's a positive message about acceptance-her physical being changed, but she was still the same T-Rex 2.

In the end, it's a cute show. Not meant for broadway but hopefully an off-off-broadway house will pick it up. Here's their webpage:

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