THEATRE REVIEW: Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time ★★★★★

Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time
National Theatre Live
Tuesday 27th May 2014

National Theatre Live is a fantastic opportunity that gives theatre goers who want to let their audiences watch their acclaimed shows locally in cinemas worldwide, and in this instance I went to watch The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. The play is stage in the round, so everything is seen from a 360° view for the audience in every direction. The stage is lite from the outside with cubes, where the ensemble enter through the doors, or sit round the edge and watch the action on stage

The first act begins straight away with Winston, the dog, killed with a garden fork. Christopher is at the scene of the crime, gets blamed by the police officer, and has to go to the station. The way they light this, and what I like about it, is the fact spotlights are used for the action. Christopher writes a book throughout talking about the mystery of who killed Winston, and one sequence in the first act has Christopher walking to each house on his street interrogating them with questions. The way they do this, and also a benefit for cinema goers, is through a Birdseye view with a lite up stage, with a diagram of all the houses on the street and numbers in each section.

Another time the Birdseye view technique is used is during a monologue about being an astronaut, and has the floor illustrated with star constellations. Its a brilliant way to get through to the audience what is happening and is also a great visual effect, a great touch.

In terms of story, revelations start to unfold about Christophers life, especially about his family, where after being told, by his father, that his mother died at  hospital following a heart attack, he soon finds out, thanks to Mrs Alexander and a bundle of letters from his mother underneath his book that his father took away from him, that his mothers death was a lie and she was in fact having an affair with Mr Spears, and the mystery of who killed Winston is soon rounded up by the end of the first act, were it ends with Christopher now wondering where he could now stay as his father has lied to him, and he soon thinks that there is only one place, London, were his mother now lives.

Act two opens up almost immediately with a trip to London on a very inventive train journey, using the Birdseye view technique of moving landscape on the floor and pieces of the set lowering to give the idea of a train track, for Christopher to see his mother. The movement sequence involved with the ensemble cast at the train station is fast paced and slick, and is really visual.

There are many comedic elements in the play, with the knowledge from the actors that they know are being watched and refer to the audience, and an example of this is when Christopher speaks aloud what he thinks the answer is to a question he has in his A Level Maths exam, but is soon interrupted by Niamh Cusack, who plays his teacher Siobhan, who says that the audience would get bored of Christopher telling his answer, so he soon says that if anyone wants to know the answer, the audience are aloud to stay at the end of the show, after the curtain call, to find out, which he indeed does, and is done so with lights, visuals and sounds on the ground.

What I think people would take away from this play after seeing it is a better understanding of Autism in everyday life for people who have it. I believe Luke Treadaway gives an exceptional brilliant portrayal of a 15 year old child with Autism, and it comes to no surprise why he won the award for Best Actor at the Oliviers in 2013. I feel like I have gained a better understanding of what life must be like for those with Autism, especially in the train station sequence, because as seen in those moments, when Christopher was scared of where to go, all these words were being displayed on the ground, which showed us that people with Autism just take everything in around them and cannot pinpoint or focus on where they are meant to be going.

Overall, Curious Incident is a play that must be watched by everyone, not just because it has great visuals and an amazing cast to match, but because it will give people an insight into how people with Autism go about their lives, and the struggles they may go through on a daily basis.


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