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Theatre Review: The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time

22nd January 2015

Christopher Boone (Graham Butler) photo by Brinkhoff M�genburg

Christopher Boone (Graham Butler) photo by Brinkhoff M�genburg

Grand Opera House,York until Saturday 24 January.

The National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has won numerous awards including eight Oliviers since opening in London in 2012. The adaptation of Mark Haddon’ best selling novel is by playwright Simon Stephens who has literally brought the inspirational book to life, it is directed by the highly successful War Horse co-director Marianne Elliott.

The story is told through the perspective of life through the eyes of a fifteen year old boy, Christopher Boone who has ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’. A term he never uses himself; his words to describe himself are "…someone who has behavioural problems…"

Joshua Jenkins is Christopher, his acting ability and owning of the role is faultless...a mesmerising performance by an incredibly talented actor.

Joshua Jenkins is Christopher, his acting ability and owning of the role is faultless…a mesmerising performance by an incredibly talented actor.

The play is about disability and various people’s attitudes towards it…It is about family, truth, understanding, coping, loyalty, death…

Christopher’s World is highlighted by his understanding of complex mathematical theories ( He even returns to the stage when the play has ended to explain some clever Algebra he uses whilst sitting his A’level maths paper!). His favourite calming down mechanism is the security he gets by reciting prime numbers. He understands animal’s needs beautifully but cannot fathom how to read human emotions in facial expressions. Trusting people is very difficult for him, even his parents through their own misguided coping strategies let him down.

The one person in his life he consistently trusts is his favourite teacher Siobhan (Geraldine Alexander) who is the narrator of the play; wherever Christopher’s brain jumps about to she is the constant reassuring voice that can get through to him and calm him down.

The power of the play is profound, through intense tragedy there is such a wonderful warmth and many flashes of humour sometimes in the darkest of moments.

The projection of Christopher’s brain is mirrored in the dramatic stage set whose floor and walls are entirely made up of a black and white grid with ever changing roles; fantastic use of lighting or video instantly changes the location of scenes that sometimes erratically jump around as does Christopher’s brain as he desperately tries to make sense of so many un-planned changes that life is throwing at him.

This play is a truly wonderful, thought- provoking experience with so many aspects of the tragi/comedy of life and human frailties and braveries starkly highlighted in such a graphic way, it relates beautifully to so many aspects of the human Psyche. It made me ask who is ‘normal ‘? Under extreme circumstances surely we are all capable of extreme behaviours, we just don’t carry the label of Autism.

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