Living in Canada, I never thought that I’d get chance to see Nicola Walker, one of my favourite actresses, perform on stage. I’d first heard of her involvement in the National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on Mark Haddon’s novel of the same name, via her website. I’d heard wonderful wonderful reports of the play, which had been adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott and premiered at the National Theatre in London on 2nd August 2012. The production ran through until the end of October 2012, and in September it was broadcast live through the National Theatre Live Programme which brings live theatre to national and international audiences in cinema theatres. Tonight’s Encore showing at the local Cineplex cinema was my opportunity to see the show that I might not have done before.
A story within a story, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is about and told from the perspective of Christopher Boone, a fifteen year old boy living on the autism spectrum. He finds that his neighbour’s dog was killed, and the neighbour called the police believing he was the culprit. Like many people living with autism, Christopher dislikes and is uncomfortable with physical contact from anyone, so when a police officer touches him in an effort to get the lad to come with him after finding him next to the dead dog, Christopher lashes out and strikes the officer, earning him a caution from the police. Despite efforts from his father to curtail him, Christopher decides to start his own investigation to find out who killed the dog, and eventually find out the cause of his parent’s separation.
Christopher is brilliant when it comes to understanding maths and science; it’s his comfort area of being, and reciting the prime numbers in order often helps calm his thoughts when large amounts of information threatens to overwhelm him when faced with situations in which he’s never been or faced.
Though I’ve got friends who live on the autism spectrum and relatives with children who have autism, I’ve not really had much experience with disorder, even as a nurse. This story, and the way in which it was portrayed, with numbers and letters at times jumbled and overlapping does a wonderful job at allowing the viewer a glance into the mind of someone living with autism.
Luke Treadaway does a brilliant job portraying Christopher, both in his physical mannerisms and speech as you view life through his point of view. His parents, Ed (Paul Ritter) and Judy (Nicola Walker) sometimes struggle to understand him and his behaviours as he searches for understanding people’s emotions, metaphors and why people do the things they do. Niamh Cusak plays both part of narrator and Siobhan, one of Christopher’s teachers, and help guides him through his search and understandings. Una Stubbs plays Mrs. Alexander, an elder neighbour that tries to befriend Christopher and help him out. The rest of the cast play a number of rotating roles help to move (figuratively and literally) Christopher around through the story. The set design complemented the story throughout the play, by helping to articulate Christopher’s thought patterns at times and guide him at other times.
In 2013, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won seven trophies at the Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Play, Best Director (Marianne Elliott), Best Actor (Luke Treadaway), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Nicola Walker), Best Sound Design (Ian Dickinson and Adrian Sutton), Best Lighting Design (Paule Constable), Best Set Design (Bunny Christie and Finn Ross), and was also nominated for Best Theatre Choreographer (Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett).
The next showings of Curious Incident in New Brunswick are on 28th June in Fredericton at the Cineplex Theatre, in Saint John at Cineplex Saint John, and Cineplex Trinity in Moncton. You can check the National Theatre Live website for other Venue dates and times in your area of the country and around the world. In the UK, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time returns to the stage in June 2014 at the Gielgud Theatre, and on Broadway September 2014. Also, if you haven’t already, check out Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from your local bookstore, library or online.
Also, check out other National Theatre Live productions available at these venues. I highly recommend the show.