This first collaboration between the Royal Opera and the disabled and non-disabled artists of Candoco is based on Shaun Tan’s picture book that was subsequently made into an animated film.
Its central character is a boy called Shaun who discovers a strange creature on the beach, part boiler, part crab and part octopus, and tries to help it discover a place to call home.
Composer/librettist Jules Maxwell and director/choreographer Ben Wright have reconfigured elements of the plot, so that the uncategorisable Lost Thing has become more of a biodiverse, many limbed organism, which eventually finds its rightful place in a hidden jungle Shaun discovers somewhere in the dystopian urban environment where he lives. The message becomes specifically green.
All well and good, and there are worthwhile elements in the show, ranging from the strong singing of a versatile and hard-working cast and the expressive movement of the dancers, to the moodily atmospheric cityscapes projected behind the performers.
Joel Brown’s Shaun is exceptional and his mellifluous voice is a significant asset, but the four dancers who come together to form the creature of the title, wearing costumes that look like a gigantic green salad walking on carrot legs, are also extremely lithe and sinuous.
The problem is that the material itself is overextended. In a variety of styles, Maxwell’s score consists of songs all of which feel too long and many of which fail to hit the level of memorability required for a show aimed at an audience aged six and above; with some cuts and the dropping of the interval, the piece could work better.