This collaboration between the Royal Opera House and the Candoco Dance Company, is a theatrical interpretation, using music and dance, of Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing (originally published in 2000) a highly successful illustrated book. Tan’s story has already been adapted into an Academy Award winning short film (2011) and now finds itself transformed for the stage with song, music and dance supporting a very powerful storyline.

Tan’s illustrated story is about a boy who spends his time looking for bottle-tops along the beach and one day uncovers a Lost Thing, an object which is strange and seems to belong nowhere. The plot has all the hallmarks of a mythic fairy-tale – a boy finding a lost object and taking it home and discovering things about himself and the world around him in the process of figuring out what to do with the object. The story has the feel of a mythic journey and the language has the same mythic quality, short and simple narrative phrases that have the ring and impact of something poetic and lyrical. The music by Jules Maxwell, with musical direction by Timothy Burke, captures the feeling of the journey and its emotional impact on the boy and has the added impact of a live performance, played by a small musical ensemble at the back of the stage.

There is a very engaged and convincing performance by the cast , with a special note of recognition for the work of Joel Brown as the boy Shaun who find the Lost Thing. The choreography by Ben Wright for the four-person group of dancers who embody the Lost Thing is superb, as is their performance and mood and atmosphere is ably supported by the costume design of Rike Zolne, while Zerlina Hughes’ lighting design is particularly effective.

Candoco’s mission of supporting disabled performers, who form part of the cast, is a unique and added richness to the experience and meaning of the production. The high standards of ROH set design is evident and the impassioned performance of the Candoco troupe provide a memorable gem of a performance and highly enjoyable evening in the wonderful setting of the ROH’s new LInbury theatre with a performance lasting 90 minutes, including an interval.

Photo credit: Stephen Wright