Friday, 28 September 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

Back at the National this time to see a wonderful adaptation of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliot.

The key to the show's success is the almost imperceptible re framing that Stephens pulls off, using Haddon's first person narrative as a journal which, in the hands of a sympathetic teacher is to be presented as piece of theatre. The persuasion needed to enable the main character Christopher Boone, who has Asperger's syndrome, to understand that there is a difference between theatre and lying provides a clever layer and an unusual tension on the idea of a play within a play. In keeping with the novel this theatrical device enables us to feel sympathetic to all of the play's main protagonists.

The production immerses us in Christopher's mind. A brilliantly designed geometric set is augmented by a superb literal lighting design, which brings to vivid life mathematical equations and the secret patterns of the universe. Cold ttechnology helping us to gain clarity about Christopher's epic journey up to London in the most unsentimental way.

The show is littered with fine performances. Luke Treadaway is stunning as Chris. It's a breakthrough performance which, coming on the back of earlier work on War House, confirms him as one of the hottest young actors around.

He gets fantastic support from Paul Ritter, as his embattled father and Nicola Walker, as his estranged and wounded mother.

A beautiful moment at the curtain call when Christopher, denied an earlier stage for explaining exactly how he answered an A-level maths problem, returns to 'out' the shows technology and introduce the technical crew before using them to give us a breathtaking explanation of his proof. For all our love of mystery, secrets and backstage rituals Christopher rightly has the last word, bringing the pure understanding of the autistic mind unambiguously into the light.

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