Hollywood Gothique
LA Theatre Gothique

Hollywood Fringe 2024: Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs achieves the seemingly impossible feat of mining PTSD and sexual abuse for comedic purposes. It certainly helps that the humor is not directed at the subject matter but rather used as a shield that allows the sensitive topic to be brought to light and examined. It also helps that the catalyst to exploring the trauma is a talking, intelligent dinosaur.

A college student who was abused as a young teenager by a much older boy is barely holding her life together with the help of so many pharmaceuticals that she thinks she’s hallucinating when a dinosaur suddenly appears in her room. She calls her best friend, who arrives and determines that the dinosaur is real. He theorizes that his friend’s traumatic past opened a time warp to the prehistoric past, sucking the dinosaur into the present; now, the only way to prevent a time-travel paradox disaster is to send the dinosaur back by resolving the past trauma. This means finally confronting the abuser. Things do not go quite as expected, however; the anticipated face-to-face showdown turns out to be something altogether different…and yet also cathartic.

Much of the humor derives from the humans’ bafflement at finding a dinosaur in their midst and the dinosaur’s bewilderment at finding herself in a future not at like what she expected. (Her new friends humor her mistaken belief that her unexpected arrival is responsible for the absence of dinosaurs in our time and that sending her back to the Mesozoic Era will insure her descendants’ survival.)

Dinosaurs stage review
Highlight of the show: a monologue fantasizing about confronting the abuser

This sugar-coating makes it easier to engage with the trauma that actually fuels the plot. Understandably big emotions erupt as the need for closure becomes unavoidable. Adding to the complications, the dinosaur has arrived carrying a kitchen knife, which could…maybe…be used to kill the abuser.

Dinosaurs flirts with revenge fantasy, but the truly memorable fantasy is presented in a mid-show monologue by the abuse victim, spotlighted like a standup comedian as she walks us through her scenario of how the confrontation with her abuser should play out. It’s a rousing, brilliant moment, offering the sort of wish-fulfillment perfection that real life seldom affords. Which our protagonist finds out when she actually knocks on the door of her abuser…

Determining whether the dinosaur is real or illusion.

The four-character show glides smoothly across the stage thanks to engaging performances that keeps us engaged with the characters regardless of the minimal productions values (to be expected at Hollywood Fringe Fest). A more convincing costume might have made the absurdity of a talking, intelligent dinosaur even funnier, but since the character is more symbolic than realistic – a reminder of a past that needs to be confronted – what we see her works fine.

Like I Love Sorority Rush! (another play at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival), Dinosaurs is also about character arriving in our world through some kind of dimensional warp, where her presence forces the protagonist to face some uncomfortable truths. The concept works much better here because the dinosaur simply cannot be ignored.

Dinosaurs concludes with neither a bang nor a whimper but rather a satisfying epiphany that resolves the situation without resorting to Death Wish-style vigilantism. It’s a solid effort, in which silly humor and serious subject matter blend into an unexpectedly complementary mixture.


Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent


This fantasy-comedy sounds like a combination of elements that will not mix (PTSD, sexual abuse, and a talking dinosaur), but it blends together into something both funny and touching.

Dinosaurs wraps up its run at Hollywood Fringe Fest with a final performance on Sunday, June 30 at 9pm in the Madnani Theater, 6760 Lexington Avenue in Hollywood. Get more information here.

Credits: Hannah Cairo: co-director & sound, lights, set designer. Linnea Gardner: co-director. Mandy Rubeli: playwright & producer.

Cast: Devin Stone, Faith Saporito, Hailey Hudson, Allie Rothfield.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.