Visual theatre company Tortoise in a Nutshell aim to inspire the imagination of their audiences with their creations. In this respect, The Lost Things does not disappoint. Winning awards across the globe for its 2015 debut, the revival of this tale about a lost boy and his adventures appears to be just as enchanting as the original.
An Alice in Wonderland sensation of falling down the rabbit hole
The first feature to grab the imagination is undoubtedly the impressive black dome structure which is to be our venue, shrouded in darkness within a corner of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. Once we are all seated on cushions inside, the dome becomes a picture-perfect blank canvas as the story begins. Performers Alex Bird and Arran Howie navigate around and between the audience with puppets, props, lighting and more, creating an Alice in Wonderland sensation of falling down the rabbit hole. All-encompassing stereo sound provides an ethereal echo chamber, whilst size and scale are manipulated with great effect to transport us around this constantly changing world. One particularly enjoyable example of the dome’s flexibility was an Escher-esque encounter with a maze of ladders, whereby Bird’s lost boy was propelled from one magically appearing ladder to the next, making the small space feel impossibly infinite.
The level of attention to detail here is truly stunning. We are encouraged to explore the space and meet the puppets after the show is over, which is a great touch for a family show. I would thoroughly recommend doing this regardless, as I found other pieces of the lost world – the Titanic, for example – that simply weren’t visible from my seat in the corner. However, this molecular precision does not completely scale up to the overarching narrative of the production, which felt a little lost in itself at times. Switches between the adult performers and their corresponding puppets could have been smoother, and with a minimalist script, it was unclear exactly who was interacting with who.
The Lost Things is listed as ‘a dark fairy tale’ for those aged eight and over, and there are certainly mature themes present that I would not recommend for younger viewers – particularly as the sensory nature of the piece may be a little overwhelming. If however, you’re looking for a show with buckets of ambience, mystique and light suspense, this is for you.