Living in London, I know that I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to arts and culture. Dozens of incredible museums on my doorstep, beautiful architecture, hundreds of galleries and world-class theatre and ballet productions among many other fun ways to spend a few hours. I try to make the most of it and going to the theatre is one of my favourite treats. I have to say, I’ve never been disappointed by a theatre production I’ve seen in the West End. My favourites are The Lion King and Wicked – I’ve seen both twice – but I really enjoyed Singing In The Rain and The Twits recently too.
Last Tuesday, I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time and was utterly blown away. Admittedly I haven’t read the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, but I think a great adaptation should stand up on its own whether you’ve read the book or not. Intense, touching and humorous, the show really struck a chord – so much so that I’ve just ordered the novel.
For those who haven’t read the book, the story’s centers around a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. The play opens dramatically with the protagonist, Christopher Boone, wailing and moaning dramatically while standing over the body of his neighbour’s dog, which has been brutally killed. The unfolding story follows Christopher as he attempts to solve the mystery of who killed Mrs Shears’ dog Wellington. This follows the same premise as the book, although the play is narrated by Christopher’s endearing teacher at his special needs school. Christopher overcomes various obstacles; from never venturing further than the end of the street to hating physical contact and having difficulty communicating with strangers.
While the story sensitively and sympathetically sheds light on the reality of living with Asperger’s Syndrome, actor Luke Treadaway’s portrayal of Christopher really brings the character to life. Luke’s performance is astounding; from his mannerisms and body language to his facial expressions and tone of voice, I really believed he was Christopher Boone. His portrayal is humorous and heartbreaking at the same time; subtle touches like his twitchy nervousness, astute observations, brilliant maths mind quiet curiosity and painful awkwardness really add depth to his character.
Most of the shows I have seen are naturally theatrical and the characters are clearly playing a role, whereas every character in The Curious Incident feels so real. Each character really holds their own and is their character, whether they are playing the part of a character or a ‘prop’. One of the stand out scenes for me was when Christopher found himself travelling to London to find his mum on the train and underground. The tight cast somehow conveyed a bustling train station and overcrowded underground perfectly while Luke drew the audience in and the audience felt Christopher’s discomfort and panic.