• Amy Toledano

The Lost Thing presented by The Royal Opera and Candoco Dance Company

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

What is it?

The Lost Thing is a combined operatic and dance production by The Royal Opera and Candoco Dance Company. This production is based on the book The Lost Thing, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan.

What is it about?

The story begins when a young boy discovers something mysterious and out of place in the hum drum dystopian world of grey and beige that is presented. This colourful yet peacefully chaotic creature becomes known as the Lost Thing. We follow how the boy (beautifully performed by Joel Brown) helps the Lost Thing find its way back home. This enchanting yet eerie story shows us how we are all connected even when we may seem so different. 

How did it make me feel?

The first thing to note about this production is that it is a cast and orchestra combined of disabled and non-disabled singers, dancers, and musicians. The thing that is most striking about this is that the show does not focus, or even draw any attention, to any member's disabilities. This goes to show that that all performers can have the same opportunities and complete the same tasks, no matter how different anyone may seem. This story does not focus on disabled characters, yet not one moment of the show is any different from showcasing the characters that are presented. If anything, it makes the production that much more impressive, moving, and poignant. Just like the the main character in the story, Shaun, working alongside the Lost Thing to help it find where it belongs, the production does the same; for example, when we see visually impaired cast members being guided on stage by their co-stars. The whole team comes together to show us that we are all connected, no matter how different we may seem, just like the characters in the world that Tan creates.  The story also makes one reflect on what it is like to be child and not get caught up in the corporate office world that so many of us today face. Children see the good in the world; they can see past differences and disabilities. As adults, we have conditioned ourselves to turn a blind eye to things that make us uncomfortable. This story and this production remind us to open our eyes and our hearts and face those things that make us uncomfortable. 

Anything else? The use of projection in this production has a huge impact. The design team (Duncan Morris) do a masterful job of combining, what looks like, illustration [from the book] and realistic images. Generally with the use of projection, one can feel removed from the live theatre experience, but in this case, it only helps to enhance the dystopian world created and give us a sense of eeriness.  This is a beautiful meeting of opera and dance in one production. The music is chilling and the way the Lost Thing moves is haunting. This is a testament to the composer, music director(s), choreographer and director.  This is a lovely piece of work that is suited for children and adults alike. It is a great example of how to bring young people into the world of live theatre and continue to nurture their minds with acceptance and collaboration. 

Natasha x

The Lost Thing is playing at the Royal Opera House until the 4th January 2020.

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