Until February 2016, London’s infamous Gielgid Theatre will be home to the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nightime, as well as running on Broadway and touring in the UK and Ireland.
Adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book; it is already well acclaimed, the production has won five Tony awards and seven Olivier awards and having seen it, it’s very, very easy to understand why.
The play follows the story of Christopher (Sion Daniel Young), a fifteen year old with an extraordinary brain and exceptional maths skills who is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and strongly distrusts strangers. After his neighbours dog mysteriously gets murdered, Christopher takes it upon himself to discover the killer and along the way he learns a lot more about himself then he ever thought.
Perhaps the most arresting aspecting of this production is the staging. The stage is transformed to represent Christohger’s mind, often rigoursly ordered, yet sometimes frantic and overloaded. It’s all flashing lights and colours and presents a perfect backdrop for a play that can rely on strong narrative, exceptional acting and movement rather than props and scene changes.
All of the performances are perfect; subltle enough to be believeable, but bold enough to be moving. It’s not an easy job to act and represent autism, but it is done both accurately and sensitively from all members of a clearly well trained and well researched cast.
Simon Stephens said what he hoped to acheive was that:
This can’t be a piece of theatre that alienates people. It has to be a piece of theatre that you can come to if you’re 10 years old or if you’re 90 years old. It needs to appeal to people that have very high art taste in theatre, but also it’s got to be a family night out, and I thought that Marianne [Elliot, director] could release that really beautifully and really perfectly. Everybody working on it, the entire creative team, were united in wanting to tell Christopher’s story as honestly and properly as possible.
And he did exactly that. The narrative is at times moving and difficult, though others light hearted and comical. There is something reletable within this story for everyone and the execution and aesthetics of this play make it one of the most enjoyable I have seen in some time.