“Restless and rapacious, 21st Century Dinosaurs rampages through the myths of disability and ethnicity like a raptor in a pet shop. There is nothing archaic, however, about this no holds barred wrestle between the perceptions that plague many visually impaired people, and the reality of their lives.  Laughter, an under-current that stops the play ever becoming trite, bubbles up as the characters alternately delight, shock and horrify the audience with their stories, and throughout it all the cold hand of science threatens to stifle the life force that demands to be felt. 

This is an intimate production: we get to know Edith, with her intriguing past, Oliver, perpetually on the edge of infidelity, and Bob, metaphorically and physically veiled in the power of her conviction.  The symbolism of the veil, and its parallel with sight loss, opens a perspective on discrimination that links physical sight with trust, or lack of it, another of the play’s edgy little insults that the “sight dependent” clearly deserve. 

Edith belies all the conventions of blindness: not only has she lived a lot, she’s done it all with celebrity! No “special holidays for the visually impaired” for her, rather the soaring spirit of an adventurer bound only by the blindness which, if she could ever escape, she would leap the wall, and to hell with the consequences.

Oliver, ostensibly researching visual impairment, is away from his family and cannot resist the opportunity to flirt. Daringly, he tackles the beautiful icon that is Bob, shining the spot light of his intellect on her but, ever the mischief maker, falls prey to “the local hooch”. 

As you might expect from such an irreverent production, charities for “the blind” come in for a bit of a tongue lashing – although the idea of a communal Guide Dog has its attractions!  There is a brilliant spoof on charity advertising, which somehow sits alongside a tragic story of bullying at a “blind school” and an interlude with a wine box where Oliver and Edith roll out the innuendoes in the best Carry On film tradition. 

Flawlessly executed, 21st Century Dinosaurs is accompanied by a backcloth of startling and stunning sound.  Intangible and astonishing as the themes it explores, the discord and the purity of the notes calls down an atmosphere of uncertainty and magic, this is a World which disdains convention, and its music lives its own life. 

So what does the play offer its audience?  There is no comfort except that there is, sometimes, a place of acceptance.  There is no reassurance except, sometimes, the love of a family or the strength of a likeminded friend.  Difference, after all, will always be different. This is no comfortable awareness raising interlude where you will learn how to treat visually impaired people.  It is, rather, a bite full of diversity, 21st Century Dinosaurs are alive and living among us, and it is a better World for that.”

Reviewed by Andrea Gordon

Guide Dogs Cymru

28th March 2014