Cabaret. It is a style of comedy that works quite well, because if the jokes are missed then the audience can just enjoy the music; alternatively, if the music is not to their taste, they can enjoy the humour. Creatures Lost is a cabaret that manages to have good music and dialogue, so it works out well anyway. It also is a show that continues the good cabaret tradition of mixing the absurd with pointed social issues – in this case, environmentalism and the loss of species – an issue that is increasingly at the front of people’s mind as we are effectively in an extinction event caused by changing climate and human devastation of environments across the globe.
As a bit pre-show bit of entertainment, it was also nice to have the audience sing along to “King of the Swingers” – a bit of spontaneous audience-performer engagement with random background music that was playing. It turned out to be a good indication of the calibre of both the show and audience really – fun and bouncy tunes (mostly), with fun and bouncy people.
In essence the show is a classic cabaret style, relying on a mixture of catchy and jaunty tunes, ridiculous costumes, and witty words. There was a loose “story” – a Vietnamese soft shell turtle was explaining the history of extinct or endangered species, starting with the dinosaurs and ending with the modern era. Each section was distinct and short, so getting bored or experiencing the same style over and over were not an issue. Although, right at the end of the show the audience was slammed with some powerful music that had tears in the eyes of many seated people.
Watching the show, it was hard not to be reminded of pantomime’s one watches as a child. Fun, silly, with ridiculous energy, and crazy costumes. It is also potentially an avenue that could prove lucrative to the team – their show certainly has potential in that area. But it was still accessible to adults, either by relying on the nostalgia for such shows or simply those who have an appreciation of wholesome fun with a moral beneath it.
Unfortunately the acoustics of the show were a bit distracting. Early on the guitar seemed to stop working, and this caused some mismatch with the sound, leaving some songs a bit empty, especially when the keyboards were not being used. The pre-recorded tracks were also a bit distracting and clearly synthesised, which did cheapen the feeling somewhat as well, although it is easy to appreciate the performance was limited by stage space and instrumentation. Fortunately the vocals were almost always on point, and the singing skills as well as range of styles explored did somewhat mitigate these audio problems.
Overall a fun and engaging show with poignant parts that added a surprising amount of depth for a cabaret with cardboard Tyrannosaurus costume.