Just recently, right after War Horse, I had been thinking whether I might get invited to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Sometimes the universe listens, and lo and behold! The invitation indeed came forth. The striking blue posters since have been popping up all around London, and I was really looking forward to seeing the play.
I read The Curious book sometime in 2008 during a read-a-thon (oh the days when read-a-thon was a manageable size), and I loved it straight away. It is one of those books that I bought multiple copies of, and gave to people. I wondered how people would translate such a unique book into stage play.
First thing that hit me was that the boy playing Christopher was older/bigger than what I imagined him to be when I read the book. He is 15 in the book. I guess boys are pretty grown by that age, so the casting was alright (Christopher played by Luke Treadaway – who also happened to play in War Horse stage). Somehow I imagined him closer to 11-12 years old back then.
In any way he is quite a tricky character to play, because as we know, Christopher is autistic. He has problem with interpreting people’s emotions, understanding behaviours, and generally acting “normal”. It is something that I can relate with, the whole confusion and pressure to be the “normal” — to be the same as everybody else.
Christopher’s problem also highlights things that we usually take for granted, like interpreting the reaction of human face and body language. It reminds me how complex humans are, and how far away we are from having robots duplicating our ability to read all these millions of tiny, often subtle, signals we send to each other. Christopher excels in math and logic, but he has trouble understanding his fellow human beings.
The play begins with a dead neighbour’s dog killed by a giant fork, and Christopher is present at the scene of the crime. After convincing everybody that he does not kill the dog, Christopher goes off to try to find the answers to the who and why. Started somewhat lightheartedly, it gets sad pretty quickly, as we learn about the situation at home, featuring a stressed father, and a separated mother.
The stage is very clean and modern, with the shape of a square box. Lights, projectors, and moveable props are used, and there are storage spaces behind the walls and under the floor where they can take things from. It is another unique way of using the stage that I had not seen before.
It was very interesting to see the book brought to live on stage. I encourage you to check out the trailer below also to get more sense of what to expect. Very worth watching if you happen to be in London! And if you do, don’t leave your seat immediately after the show ends, because in a short while Christopher would appear again and do his Math presentation, just like the appendix in the book :).
As another nice touch, notice the seats when you get into the theatre. If you remember, Christopher is fascinated by prime numbers (who doesn’t? I remember being fascinated by them too when I first learned about it!), so they number all the seats in the theatre and mark those ones that are on prime number positions!
(All images taken from The Curious On Stage website)