Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (NT Live) Review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Cottesloe Theatre, National Theatre, London - National Theatre Live Screening

The new season of National Theatre Live starts with an adaptation of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The story follows a fifteen year old, Christopher Boone (Luke Treadaway), who has a huge interest in mathematics, but has difficulties in socializing. One night he discovers that his next door neighbor's dog has been killed with a garden fork. He therefore decides to investigate the death of the dog, and discover who killed him. Through this he begins to learn more about his family and soon old tensions come back to haunt them.

Before seeing this production I listened to an audio recording of the book. I learnt beforehand that although the text never mentions it, the blurb classified Christopher's condition as asperger's syndrome. I myself have high functioning autism, which to many is similar to asperger's. On some level I did relate to the character, but I felt that as I was reading the book many of the attributes associated with autism were coming at me thick-and-fast. For someone who has a similar condition to mine, I thought that Christopher was doing things that I had never done or had grown out of by his age. Even my mum, who had read the book some time ago, thought the same thing. I liked the character but wondered whether Christopher was an accurate representation of asperger's, or whether he had been given every characteristic of autism

That being said I did enjoy this production and would even say it is better than the book. When reading the book I kept wondering whether it would have been informative to have seen Christopher from another perspective than his. In this production, not only is the character seen from the audience's (or camera's) perspective, but a lot of the narrative from the book he wrote was read and commented upon by his tutor, Siobhan (Niamh Cusack). It looked as if it was all going on in his mind. It reminded me of the way the first person narrative from Great Expectations was spoken by a chorus observing the main action during the RSC's 2006 production, which I loved.

Also, whilst I liked the detailed narrative in the book, the production went at a quick and energetic pace. The audience was seated in the round and this allowed Christopher's mathematical and detailed mind to be shown as a series of maths equations, drawings and diagrams projected onto the floor of the stage. Many imaginative theatrical techniques were used to create Christopher's imaginations, from floating in outer space to recreations of computer games. The members of the cast also helped Christopher act out his story as though he was in charge of his own little world. When he was forced out of his comfort zone in the second act, his increasing confusion was expressed through a multitude of projections as he was confined to a rapidly decreasing space on the stage. There was one silent part that seemed to drag, but for the most part the production never slowed down, and it eventually helped me forget my reservations about Christopher's condition.

Luke Treadaway did well in recreating the Christopher's character in the book, and he was very engaging to follow. Another person who did stand out in this production was Nicola Walker, who produced a lengthy monologue (it did feel as though no one else was onstage with her) at one point as a certain character, and it was very moving to hear her frustration and despair. Paul Ritter played Christopher's father as a rough, short tempered and impatient man, who was becoming increasingly stressed because of Christopher. Additionally Una Stubbs was lovely as the kind and thoughtful neighbour, Mrs Alexander. It was nice to see these characters from outside Christopher's perspective.

Despite what I think about the book, I had a great time watching this production. It moved at a good pace and was acted out with tonnes of energy. The cast also did well in presenting the characters from the book. This production is worth a low Top Price

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