Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Theatre Review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Bit of a mouth full isn’t it?! Based on the much loved novel by Mark Haddon, This recent National Theatre production had a majorly successful run at the Cottesloe. The production was also shown throughout cinemas worldwide in the National Theatre Live programme. The production has now transferred to the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End and has extended its initial run by 14 weeks, now finishing on the 31st August.  
This touching story is about 15 year old Christopher who has Asperger Syndrome, one of his neighbours Dogs gets killed and he decides to become a detective and find out who did this, along the way he finds out things he wish he never knew and also finds his mother. Although Christopher has Asperger Syndrome it is never actually said in the play, I think it’s very important that as an audience you don’t watch the play knowing he has this otherwise it becomes an observing experience. The clever thing that Simon Stephens has clearly done in his adaptation of the production is to not make reference to it, as an audience you can clearly see this fact about Christopher but by this not being pointed out you can then freely go on the journey with the character and the experience of watching the play becomes an emotional experience and one that means you can really understand this fascinating boy.  
Marianne Elliot has created an incredible piece of theatre, as the director she has created a very sharp and slick production which moves fast enough that you don’t get bored but gives the emotional scenes enough time for your attention to be locked onto that stage. I can tell you that I have never been in such a quiet theatre before, you usually get a few people who whisper a few times throughout the show or start munching on their sweets but not there. The theatre was dead silent throughout the whole show; you could have heard a pin drop. Every single audience member didn’t take their eyes off that stage for the whole two and a half hours. 
Bunny (?) Christie is the designer on this production, oh my! The set was incredible. I did think that I was back in the Garrick Theatre about to watch Loserville when I first walked in but as soon as the play started I knew it was one of the best designs I’ve ever come across. It almost felt like you were in Christopher’s head, the way the train tracks built up over the first act and then represented the journey he made to London was spectacular. The use of projections in this production really transformed the theatre into a magical space that was almost hypnotising. I also loved the way they portrayed the London Underground in this production, the escalator was astonishing! The stairs came out from the back wall and the projections were used to create the backdrop, you can obviously tell it’s still the same set and you know its projections but whilst watching it you wouldn’t second guess that it’s not real. 
Luke Treadaway stars in this production as Christopher, what an actor! He really gets this character and you can tell he completely understands what goes on in his head. He delivers each line perfectly, the amount of research he must have done to make that part what is it must have been excruciating and unbelievably hard but it pays off. It must be very daunting having to play a part like that but I cannot find any faults in his performance, he needs to win every award going for this show! 
Seán Gleeson plays Christopher’s Father, Ed, and he really plays the struggling single dad really well. His frustration in the role was really believable and the great thing about this production is that you not only get to know and understand Christopher but also the characters that are involved in his life. He doesn’t ask for sympathy off the audience, he plays the character as someone who just gets on with his life and it’s really heart warming but also tragic to watch him struggle. Holly Aird plays Christopher’s Mother, Judy. She really shows her love for her son so clearly in this show and you can tell that despite his condition her character loves him more than anything. I also really admired the way that Holly almost chose to ignore the fact that the Christopher has Asperger Syndrome, I really think this is what Mark Haddon wanted. Niamh Cusack plays Siobhan who is Christopher’s teacher at his school for children with Special Needs and throughout the show she almost acts as his conscience. She really has a nice relationship with him on stage and her connection with him throughout the production is beautiful. 
The show also has a really strong ensemble; each cast member had such good focus on stage and performed with such grace and sharpness. This production is incredible, it is very rare that I actually can sit for two and a half hours and give something my full attention but I could not take my eyes off that stage. Everything about this production is astonishing, the only down fall was that the seats in the theatre have been raised and that resulted in my feet not actually being able to touch the ground (see where the pocketsizeboy name comes from now?!) which really hurt my knees when I tried to get up in the interval and after the show!  
The production has to be one of the best plays of not only 2013 but of this decade, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this show. A production with the qualities it has doesn’t come around very often so if you miss it you’re missing a play of a life time. 

Rating: *****
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at the Apollo Theatre until the 31st August

Cast Includes:  Luke Treadaway, Niamh Cusack, Seán Gleeson, Holly Aird, Tilly Tremayne, Sophie Duval, Nick Sidi, Matthew Barker, Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty, Howard Ward, Johnny Gibbon, Jake Ferretti, Jane Lambert, David Mara and Claire Winsper.   

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