Review – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – National Theatre

by

“So I went to this PLAY and it was about this BOY and it had a lot of MATHS in it and it was REALLY COOL and I was in a PRIME SEAT so I had a PRIME NUMBER and I was Technetium and I was SPECIAL and then I won a prize.”

That is the eight year old inside of me trying to explain how excited and happy I was at the end of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Yes, okay, maybe there were a few things nice going on outside of the two hours and forty five minutes I spent under Marianne Elliott’s control (I did, actually, win a prize, for having a name that added up to a prime number – in my case, 109 – and having the good fortune to sit in one of the “prime” seats in the first place … plus it was the middle of the most glorious week of the entire summer), but my joy was pretty much entirely caused by what happened inside the theater. So many times I go to see new plays, get my hopes up, am briefly suckered by some interesting design work, then WHAM, the true horror hits as I realize that all of that buildup has come to nothing: it’s a dud.

But not last night. Oh no. Curious Incident had the cool movement going (which reminded me of Earthquakes in London), really great projections on stage (well, on the floor) that absolutely added to the story (and which were added to by actual embedded lights, and chalk) and helped build the world of the protagonist’s mind for us and … er, for once, practically no set at all, at least not in the National’s usual way of telling us every little detail of the play by building it for us in an utterly realistic way. And this matters because all of it made a good play better. If you don’t know the book, it’s about an autistic boy who discovers a dead dog and then decides to solve the mystery of who kills it. Conceptually it’s a story about where this leads him, but I believe it is a story much more about what it’s like to be inside of an Aspberger-y mind; and also a play about what it is like, on a daily basis, to live with someone who is both highly intelligent and very, very difficult (and occasionally violent).

And the play just utterly succeeds. I’m not convinced that the performances were 5 star amazing (but since this was a preview, I’d say give it some time to cook), but the protagonist’s father (Paul Ritter) is heartbreakingly convincing – tender, frustrated, angry, loving, despairing. Luke Treadaway as Christopher doesn’t quite feel natural enough, but holds the stage well and in no way appears to overplay his character’s disabilities.

There is so much to say about how much I enjoyed this and all of the reasons why, but I don’t want to take away from the enjoyment so many people are going to have watching this show by telling too much. There are three coups de theatre that left me laughing with joy (before the interval), gasping with surprise, then finally crying (with joy again); I kind of think the director and design team deserve a special prize for making a crusty old burnout like me feel so excited to be seeing a show again. I left feeling high as a kite in the special way I only get when I see something new and wonderful at the very beginning; if nothing else, I was able to thank Nicholas Hynter personally for making this show happen. It’s sold out for the entire run so it may be hard to get a ticket: but it’s utterly worth the risk of day seating and of course regularly refreshing your browser in the hopes of returns, for this show must be seen and it must be seen in the Cottlesloe while it is possible, before it transfers (which it will) and while you can still enjoy the wonderful creation the National team has made for us in its lovely, intimate, black box environment. It will, of course, play in other houses, for this is a play I feel has a long future ahead of it. But in this place, with this design work and this cast, on that beautiful summer night, and in seat 43, I feel so damned lucky I got to see this.

(This review is for a preview performance that took place on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012. It continues through October 27th. I may just go see it again but I’d feel guilty taking a seat from someone else who hasn’t.)

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Review – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – National Theatre”

  1. Cultured Lad Says:

    Great review! I love your blog!!

    This book is so good so I look forward to seeing the play! What’s the stage setup and what price band ticket did you have?

    • webcowgirl Says:

      Seats were square on two levels, my seat on ground level at 27 quid. Also there were some seats on the edge of the stage, pretty cool but not sure of price. Take anything you can get, nothing is that expensive and this once I promise it’s worth the price.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: