‘Pterodactyls’ A Hilarious Touching Play About a Very Dysfunctional Family


Photo by Edo Tsoar’

Pterodactyls’ written by the award winning playwright Nicky Silver, is a play that you’ll be thinking about way after the curtain falls.

When the play opens we meet the Duncans, an affluent but super dysfunctional  family living in the Main Line area of Philadelphia.  This is a group of people that have basically stopped functioning in a ‘normal’ way a long, long time ago, if ever. They are not only disconnected from each other, but the real world as well, and just like the dinosaurs, they are on the verge of extinction.

The father, Arthur (Skip Pipo), mixes up events from his own childhood with those of his children. His wife, Grace (Donna Goldfarb), is an alcoholic who doesn’t remember if she’s planning a funeral or a wedding. On the other hand, their hypochondriac daughter, Emma (Melina Chadbourne), can’t remember anything at all. She is about to get married to the unemployed Tommy (the very funny Ben Rawls), who winds up working for  the family as their maid. Finally we have their son, Todd (Cambrian Thomas-Adams) who returns home after spending years away and announces that he has AIDS.

Todd actually seems like the only ‘normal’ one, even though  he spends most of his time digging up the back yard. He’s found bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and is reassembling them. Much to his annoyance, his mother goes around saying that he is dying even though Todd tells her he isn’t.  Although secretly Todd thinks that his family would be better if they all just died.

‘Pterodactyls’ which is more a black comedy than a comedy is filled with very funny lines that each actor delivers perfectly. Despite this families eccentricities, you can’t help but want everything to turn out okay for them. The dialogue is filled with non sequiturs so you really have to pay close attention. Yes you will laugh, but you may also tear up when you recognize that every family has inside of them a little bit of the Duncans.

‘Pterodactyls,’ directed by Melanie Weisner, is at the Pop Up Theatre at Culver Studios  located at the Culver Studios, 9336 Washington Blvd in Culver City.   The play runs Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2pm until September 24th. Tickets are $25.00 for all performances and can be bought by going to thepopuptheatre.org or pterodactyls.eventbrite.com. It’s definitely worth a trip to Culver City to see this excellent production.

Joan Alperin

About Joan Alperin

Joan was born in Brooklyn and spent many years working as an actress in New York City. Even though she traveled extensively, Joan couldn't imagine living anywhere else.. Well one day, she met someone at a party who regaled her with stories about living in L. A. specifically Topanga Canyon. A few weeks later she found herself on an airplane bound for Los Angeles. Joan immediately fell in love with the town and has been living here for the last twenty years and yes, she even made it to Topanga Canyon, where she now resides, surrounded by nature, deer, owls and all kinds of extraordinary alien creatures.. Joan continued acting, but for the last several years (besides reviewing plays and film) she has been writing screenplays. Joan was married to a filmmaker who created the cult classic films, (way before she knew him) Faces of Death. As a result of his huge following, they created a funny movie review show entitled Two Jews on Film, where Joan and her husband, John would review movies and rate them with bagels You can see their reviews by going to youtube.com/twojewsonfilm. Although it's now only one Jew - Joan is occasionally joined by her beautiful Pekingnese and Japanese Chin.
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