Saturday, September 22, 2018


Jurassica by Dan Giovannoni. Directed by Bridget Balodis. Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre and Critical Stages. The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. Sept 19 – 22 at 8pm. Matinee Sat Sept 22 at 2pm.

Jurassica is a gentle working over of the familiar territory of post war migration and its dislocations. The memories of Ralph (Joe Petruzzi) are the initial focal point of this solidly directed and sparely designed piece. With his wife Sara (Caroline Lee) Ralph comes to Australia from Italy in the great waves of post ww11 migration.

The repercussions of all of this for their son Ichilis (Jordan Fraser-Tremble), his wife Penny (Devon Lang Wilton) and grandson Luca (Edward Orton) are examined. Set against these are the much more recent memories of interpreter Kaja (Olga Makeeva) a refugee from Belgrade in the 1990s.

Ralph’s name might have been anglicised but his memories of Italy as he approaches the end of his life are vivid. Ichilis struggles with an identity that straddles two cultures and Luca seems to have moved even further away, his relationship with his grandfather most vivid when he was a little boy.

The play swings between the present and the past, centring increasingly on Ralph’s past, his dead wife Sara and his hopes for the future in his son and grandson. Kara’s raw modern take on migration and cultural difference meshes in the hospital ward with Luca’s seeming indifference as he buries his head in a smart phone.

The cast handle all this with elegance and focus.  Tantalising fragments of story surface.  How did Lee’s very self contained Sara ‘bully’ Lang Wilton’s independent and good humoured Penny into producing a child? The story is hinted at in passing but only briefly.  And Penny and Fraser-Trumble’s somewhat immature Ichillis do not appear to have actually gone though a marriage ceremony. Old norms have been challenged but there’s also acceptance of the new.

Meanwhile Orton’s Luca has become a twitchy young bloke coping with his sex life via apps although how he became that is never made quite clear. No wonder he and Makeeva’s no nonsense translator Kaja find it hard to co-ordinate over helping his grandfather in the hospital. 

Petruzzi as the patriarch makes the strong and feeling centre of all of this. A dinosaur from the Jurassic perhaps but one who is trying for understanding. Much has perhaps moved on since The Shifting Heart.

Alanna Maclean