I wanted to see this last year but I missed out, so I was very happy to get the chance to finally see ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time‘ at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. Being a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, and having read the book with my son, I was interested to find out how it was played out on stage. At first I wondered if I should take my son with me but quickly decided against this and took my friend instead – wise decision.
The curtain lifted to show a very ‘Tron‘ like, futuristic looking set. Light boxes carefully placed on and around the stage, number lines and mathematical grids, very cool and like nothing I have seen before on a set. Whilst I understood the mathematical relevance, I wondered how the set would fit around the story.
The show started with a bang…literally! Taking the audience by surprise which made a great impact and got our attention. The story is about 15 year old Christopher Boone (played by Scott Reid), a mathematical, systematically genius who just happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome. One night, he is distressed at discovering the dead body of his neighbours dog, murdered with pitch fork still embedded. Wrongly accused of the crime he vows to investigate the crime and discover who is the real culprit. Despite his dad’s desperate pleas to stay out of other people’s business, Christopher makes himself known around the neighbourhood by asking lots of questions to people he has never spoken to before. Christopher finds out more information than he bargained for which sets him on an incredible journey – in more ways than one. What follows is Christopher’s struggle to understand people and the struggle for people to understand him. Can he really achieve anything?!
The production was loud and busy, but that’s the point – and confirmed why I had made the right decision in not taking my son. The show hits you from an Asperger’s point of view; as someone who not only lives with an ASD child, but works with them too, the show brings to life, very realistically, what has regularly been described to me as what is going on inside the head of an Asperger’s/Autistic persons head from their viewpoint.
Amazing choreography, timing, staging, acting…whilst I feel like I am gushing so much about this production, at the same time I feel I am not doing it enough justice. Emma Beattie and David Michaels as Christopher’s mum and dad really resonated with me, the mum’s struggle to understand and cope with her son’s condition when all she wants to do is cuddle her child and comfort him. The dad more patient and practical but desperate to make his son understand how much he loves him.
Scott Reid’s portrayal of Christopher was absolutely outstanding, familiar and utterly believable – I overheard conversations during the interval of people wondering if he was indeed an actor or a real person who struggles with his understanding and communication of others and has just been picked to do the part.
The adaptation from book to stage has been done beautifully and absolutely comes to life in front of your eyes. My friend who has no ASD experience said she really felt she gained a bit of insight and understanding, to me that felt huge. The space/time, futuristic, light-up, minimalistic stage set up reminded me of a trendy London bar. The moveable stacking boxes that doubled/tripled as tables and chairs were used so well and flawlessly, the light up doors that you couldn’t tell were doors and surprised you each time they were opened up and objects or people appeared…mesmerising and very clever. The use of props for effect were just wow…look out for the train set!
I was completely blown away by ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ on stage, it is by far the best thing I have ever seen, made more so by a terrific cast. As I sat watching, I went through a whole range of emotions and may admit to wiping away a tear or two…don’t tell anyone.
This is a must see and one production I will definitely want to watch again and again.
On until 15th April.
Performance A* (watch it you’ll get it)