Written and performed by Jennifer Martin
Directed by Kerryn Palmer
Capital E, Wellington | July 2-14
Typically, a museum is a place for quiet and reverential retrospection, but, by night, once security has left, anything can happen. In the basement of Capital E, the audience of Ivy, Saviour of the Dinosaur becomes a lost tour group in a museum basement and a woefully inept cleaning lady becomes our tour guide. And so begins Capital E’s epic adventure for young audiences.
Ivy (Jennifer Martin) is an imaginative cleaning lady who, by night, becomes a time traveling historian. Her quest? To save the dinosaurs. After all, stegosauri are “like rhinos but better.” She bundles into her cleaning trolley/time machine and zooms into the Cretaceous period to witness a meteorite hurtling towards earth. Needing help from her historical friends, we visit the likes of Galileo, Neil Armstrong, and Guy Fawkes (all played by Nick Dunbar). As an irreverent take on history, Ivy, Saviour of the Dinosaur is a real treat for young and old.
Ivy champions imagination and transformation. She encourages us to look at objects in another way; “to the untrained eye…” becomes her mantra. A cleaning trolley becomes a time machine complete with a feather duster gear stick and a mop steering wheel. A white plastic bin becomes a space suit. A vacuum cleaner becomes a snake. One particularly memorable moment sees a section of the set transform as Ivy witnesses the moon landing. The set itself is a hodgepodge of cleaning products, relics, and old containers, and it has a lot of potential for transformation. This potential was, however, largely unrealised; there is so much available onstage and I wanted to see more set pieces incorporated into the story in some way.
However, from the delighted gasps of the young audience, there was no doubt that the entire audience was willing to travel back in time with Ivy. The audience reveled in the cloud of smoke that engulfed us. They helped Ivy remember who invented various items around the set. Some even hid from the gigantic dinosaurs that lingered just off stage.
The story, a massive hit for the young audience, has treats for adults. The onslaught of historical figures and undercurrents of Ivy’s delusional imagination keep the cerebrally minded invested, and Ivy’s raw British enthusiasm is darn lovely.