Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Jurassic Park is the best dinosaur film ever made. But it's always made us want more. More than Jurassic World can provide. More even then Dinosaur Mini Golf can deliver. This is where Dinosaur Zoo comes in.
Aimed at children over three, it's part puppet-show, part palaeontology lesson. We're welcomed by host Shaun, who reassures the audience that the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago and that what we're about to see is puppets... and then jokes that the children will forget that within seconds.
Which they do — eyes bug out of heads and will power is strained to the limit as the kids try not to run onto the stage to stroke the very life-like dinosaur puppets. Each one is introduced by Shaun, who tells us a little about each dinosaur, and tests the children's knowledge by encouraging them to shout out answers to questions such as 'what does carnivore mean?'
As each dinosaur is coaxed onto stage by a handler, we're told about what they eat, physiology and other facts, before a few audience members are picked to meet the creature.
And then it's time for what everyone's been waiting for — the king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's a spectacular puppet, not for the faint-hearted, as it stomps around the stage, lurching out into the audience to roar at those in the front rows.
The show will keep dinosaur-loving kids rapt for the 50-minute performance. It's probably not suitable for nervous children aged three and four as there are a few scary moments, but overall the tone is kept light. The puppets are so life-like and manipulated so skilfully it is easy to forget you're not looking at a living creature. But at £15.50 for the cheapest ticket, and no difference in price for kids or adults, expectations are deservedly high.
Dinosaur Zoo does a good job of catering for a wide range of ages — there are times when the paleontological narrative might get a bit complicated for younger kids, but it quickly moves on to a joke about poo, or parent dinosaurs feeding their kids by vomiting into their mouths.
After the show, there's chance to meet the dinosaurs in the foyer of the theatre, and as we clamber the stairs back towards King's Cross, we're left wishing once again that dinosaurs were still alive.