John Walch’s evocative, overstuffed “The Dinosaur Within,” now at the Boston Court, has plenty to say about overcoming loss, but can let ideas bury its emotions.
Gorgeously directed by Michael Michetti, this ambitious drama weaves three mysteries, ingeniously linking celebrity handprints in Hollywood with the sacred tracks of a dinosaur in Australia. Middle-aged Maria (Shauna Bloom) struggles to find an identity apart from her long-lost father and movie-star mother, Honey (Mimi Cozzens in the present, Emily Kosloski in flashbacks); Aussie Eli (Nic Few) abandons Aboriginal tradition (embodied by his father, played by VJ Kesh) to make it big in L.A.; newspaper editor Jerry (Chuck McCollum) can’t recover from the sudden disappearance of his son, Tommy (Ari Skye), 10 years ago.
Any one of these stories merits its own play, and Walch struggles to service all of his characters, their pasts, and the considerable exposition required to get this epic up and running. Michetti and his impeccable design team give Walch’s fever dream elegant shape; Francois-Pierre Couture’s desert landscape set, a twilight outback of the mind, allows the players to move smoothly between past, present, and imagination. Cozzens and Kesh are masterful, and McCollum breaks your heart as a man trying to do the impossible. Despite the big ideas, it’s the details that land: Jerry rebuilding his son’s bike; a time-traveling cigarette lighter; and finally, Tommy holding a wishbone: “What do I have to break,” he wonders, “to make my wish come true?”
“The Dinosaur Within,” Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 6. $27-$32. Contact: (626) 683-6883 or www.bostoncourt.com. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.
Photo: Emily Kosloski and Nic Few in “The Dinosaur Within.” Credit: Ed Krieger