Opening Nights: Arrh! . . . A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship

Kids will love it, though--or perhaps because--it's nonsense.

OK, so Arrh! . . . A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship doesn't make much sense. But neither do pizza with cheese-stuffed crusts or most of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies—and kids seem to adore them, too. Taken on its own terms, Theater Schmeater's child- oriented new summer show is as pleasant a diversion as you're likely to find on a sunny Seattle afternoon. The plot, and my summary, aren't going to be much help here. There's a mad scientist and his assistant traveling back through time—though not via spaceship—to capture a butterfly that will allow him to control history. There's also a zany chase through the ages to return the butterfly, which involves a mutinous T.rex, a talking shark, numerous pirates, and the odd alien restaurateur. It's complete nonsense and absurdly charming. Parents will have plenty of time to survey the crowd, since the story is so simple (though locales change every few minutes). And the cast knows how to combat the din of planes over Volunteer Park by shouting nearly every line. You can, if you wish, lie back on your blanket and just listen to the proceedings like a radio play. And since the 50-minute show is mainly about bustle and silly wisecracks, there's just enough going on to keep kids either bedazzled or bewildered with curiosity. Like the best cartoon scripts ranging from Bugs to Bullwinkle to SpongeBob, there are just enough inside jokes to keep adults bemused as their kids try to follow the mayhem spilling off the amphitheater stage. And when Bret Fetzer and Juliet Waller Pruzan's script becomes so convoluted that even the characters demand to know how the plot advanced from point A to point B, one of the cast simply chirps, "It's a long story. And not all of it scientifically plausible." Directed by Steve Cooper, A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship is a low-budget manic dash of wit and whimsy. On opening weekend, kids ate it up. In fact, there was only one group not entertained in the least—a quintet of overdressed magpies, huddled amid the audience, chattering loudly and fidgeting with what appeared to be very expensive jewelry. Will the Real Housewives of Seattle please shut up, save it for happy hour, and let the rest of us have some fun?

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