An explosion of light, sound and movement, and the stage comes alive as Christopher Boone sets out to solve a mystery – who’s behind the murder of a neighbourhood dog?
The National Theatre brings a favourite story to the stage as Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome, takes the audience in his hand and shows them his view of the world. He has difficulty understanding social situations, and struggles when things do not go according to plan. He is logical, and he shows us the beauty he sees in mathematics.
Projections of numbers, words and images splash across the stage floor and walls, giving the audience a glimpse inside Christopher’s head. We can see the chaos when he is confronted with a crowd, the constellations as he dreams of outer-space, and the complicated equations he solves with such ease and enthusiasm.
The story is a play within a play – a performance put on by Christopher’s school. Every character is seen through Christopher’s eyes, with a wry look from an actor when they’re told off for doing something wrong.
This is a play that hinges on the performance of the actor playing Christopher Boone. Scott Reid brings the central character of Mark Haddon’s book to life in a sensitive, completely believable way. He takes us right inside Christopher’s mind, so that we completely understand how the cogs turn. The whole cast, however, is a finely-tuned machine, every performance excellent.
What lifts the performance to stratospheric heights, is the physical theatre added to the mix. When the company lifts Christopher into the air and he sails through space, the audience falls head first into his imagination. In another slick piece of choreography, what could be a bland piece of exposition becomes a clever, funny piece of mime, as he explains the procedure he goes through when he gets home each day. The precise movements throughout the play physicalize the accuracy with which Christopher does every single thing.
Simon Stephens has adapted The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time perfectly. With Marianne Elliot’s direction, it even seems as though the story was originally dreamt up for the stage.
Words by Katie Dancey