'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 7 July 2018

Event: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

A couple of weeks ago I went to see the stage production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It was presented by The National Theatre of Great Britain and is currently touring Australia. I had read Mark Haddon's book and was familiar with the story, so was interested in how it had been interpreted for the stage.

Let me start by saying, WOW! It was absolutely amazing and exceeded my expectations in so many ways. You go to a stage production based on a book, expecting to see the book performed for you. Excited to see the characters brought to life and acting our their story. But this production was so much more than that.

It was a feast of the senses, so spectacularly put together that it is hard to find the words to describe. This production put me right inside the head of 15 year old autistic Christopher, with all his eccentricities. I experienced firsthand the curiosity, the confusion, the isolation and the intelligence of this young man as he tried to navigate his world.

This production is heartfelt and emotional. As with the book, the emotions are raw and real, yet filtering them through the eyes of an autistic boy is no mean feat. Despite Christopher’s lack of emotional connection, the production was able to let the audience feel the full gamut of emotions that we would feel in his situation, whilst being empathetic to how he interprets his world and tries to understand the complexities of adult relationships that are impacting on his life.

The production so accurately portrays how overwhelming the world can seem to an autistic child. It gives us an insight into how Christopher processes what is happening and what he understands about his family, relationships, and the happenings in his world. And when it all becomes too much.

The staging of this production is world class. It appears simple, an open cube with lights, modest so as not to distract from the actors. But the use of lighting to highlight, to shadow, to focus, is brilliant. The lights, lines and train tracks created by Christopher, propels the story forward in a visual way. It portrays a constant sense of movement and an understanding of Christopher’s mind continuously processing everything going on around him.

The movement and choreography was also well thought out, with exceptional use of space, lighting and pace to progress the story, as well as clever use of all angles of the set (you'll have to see it to understand what I mean!).  The actors were all extraordinary in their ability to convey the meaning of the story whilst injecting humour, emotion and silence to maximise the depth of the experience.

I have to say this is one of the finest productions I’ve seen in Canberra. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend you try and see it if the tour passes through your area.

The National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the winner of 5 Tony Awards® and 7 Olivier Awards, including Best Play, Best Director and Best Design. Tony Award® winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse) directs this “triumphant” (Sunday Telegraph, UK) adaptation by two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens who brings Mark Haddon’s internationally best-selling novel to thrilling life on stage.