Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass

★★★
kids review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2
Published 16 Aug 2016

Okay, so the title of this kids show sounds a bit like a straight-to-DVD sequel. But whatever else you could make it walk the plank for, this bonkers piratical comedy is a stand-alone play that's completely accessible to anyone who didn't see 2015's Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

It's masterminded by Les Petits, the kid-friendly arm of Les Enfants Terribles, grown-up purveyors of puppet-based whimsy par excellence. So that means we get real dinosaurs stomping across the stage, beautifully designed by Max Humphries. Each member of the prehistoric pirate crew bursts with personality. Scenes offboard the ship are shown using shadow puppet sections. They feel a little ramshackle, but they've got enough charm to not lose us at sea.

Unfortunately, Oliver Lansley's script (adapted from the kids book by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto) frequently does. It opens at a primary school play whose young stars are whisked off to a dinosaur pirate's ship – perhaps by their imaginations, perhaps by something rather stronger. They're tasked with finding a magic cutlass for the dopey dinosaur captain, who needs it to get unlimited fish, which he will use to make sausages to feed his herbivore crew.
There are quite a few self-aware digs at the silliness of the story. But it's hard to fully invest in a fight with enemies this feeble: these dinos are pussycats. Panto-style flourishes, chase scenes and high-energy silliness keeps the kids onboard at first – but after endless baffling twists, their energy starts to flag. And with more plot holes than portholes, the Jolly Roger stays firmly at half mast until the adventure ends – for now.