“I don’t know why I exist”

“I don’t know why I exist”
Rhonda Dredge

Two young writers got together during lockdown and let their personalities drive the narrative as they workshopped ideas for a play over Zoom.

They were both idealistic in different ways and didn’t want to label their characters too prescriptively.

So, they gave them names of “A” and “B” so future actors could feel themselves into the roles.

At La Mama Courthouse on May 24, the result of their collaboration – The World According to Dinosaurs – opened to Melbourne audiences.

Dinosaurs is a charming, jokey play, the product of two mindsets, that is set in a café in which nature continually interferes with work practices.

B, played by Belle Hansen, is a good worker and the hero of the play who expects A, her counterpart played by Amelia Newman, to be equally efficient.

But A has no work ethic whatsoever and continually rabbits on about strange extinct creatures instead of knuckling down.

The conversations between the two different styles of worker carry the play through extinction events, comet showers and annoying customers.

There’s a fair share of latte jokes and Annie Louey, of Comedy Festival fame, plays a heavily pregnant woman with the usual millennial fears about fermented cheese.

The word play is amusing – “this is no inter-species summit” – and the concepts are original.


“Evolution knows how to fill in an empty space,” is one memorable line from the play.


The World According to Dinosaurs has made it onto the VCE list and there were teachers at the opening night checking it out for themselves.

There is plenty of space in the production for the ideas of others, in that charm takes precedence over logic.

B was very amusing in her tense depiction of a worker just trying to get the lazy A to take the rubbish out.

When everyone is trying to be creative, who is actually going to do the work, such as clean the steam wand on the coffee machine?

Nature is a great distraction for all of us. Would you rather be pandering to millennials or pretending to be a zombie worm at the bottom of the ocean?

The answer is pretty obvious in this spoof on nerdy dinosaur seekers and knowledge geeks with starry eyes.

It turns out that Amelia Newman wanted to be a palaeontologist when she was 12 in real life, and the play ends with a great speech that encapsulates the moment as planet destruction can’t be ignored.

“I’ll end up a fossil,” A says plaintively. “It’s a waste of time. I never finish anything. I struggle with being a person. I’ve found it all so hard. I don’t know why I exist.”

The World According to Dinosaurs, La Mama Courthouse, until June 4. •


Caption: Writers Amelia Newman (A) and Belle Hansen (B) at the opening night.

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