It began with a murder... It ended with a secret so large it threatened to tear a father and son apart.The National Theatre of Great Britain’s multi award-winning play ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’ (31 July) has arrived in Adelaide and it is sure to cure those winter blues.
Based on the 2003 best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, the play explores themes of abandonment, family, courage and acceptance and is told from the viewpoint of fifteen year old Christopher Boone; who stands accused of murdering his neighbour’s beloved dog.
Joshua Jenkins delivers a powerful performance as Christopher, a young man who is good at maths but terrible at life. Terrified of strangers and afraid to be touched Christopher prefers facts and figures to human interaction and Joshua brings this awkwardly lovable young man to life with his tense body movements, infrequent eye contact and peculiar mannerisms. His ability to switch effortlessly between moments of calm and violent fits of rage perfectly capture the fear and confusion felt by this vulnerable young man. Emma Beattie and Stuart Laing deliver emotional performances as Christopher’s parents while Julie Hale stars as Christopher’s teacher Siobhan, who also narrates the play.
Featuring a fully immersive stage, the production takes storytelling to new heights by using light and sound to create visual representations of the characters actions and emotions. This unexpectedly powerful technique allows the audience to immerse themselves in the drama, intrigue and heartbreak of this thought provoking tale and adds another layer of depth to an already emotional story.
Image © Brinkhoff Mogenburg
As the story unfolds and long buried secrets are revealed violent surges of distorted white noise, blinding flashes of light and ominous shades of red are used to represent anger; while soft hues of blue and purple illuminate the few precious moments of emotional connection Christopher shares with his loved ones. At times Christopher becomes overwhelmed by his world and these moments unfold in a chaotic combination of flashing lights, rapid movements and an increasingly fast soundtrack of voices and sounds; the result of which is uncomfortable to watch. The unending muddle of lights and sounds become almost oppressive, bearing down on the audience and forcing them to experience the world through the eyes of someone society has labelled ‘different’. During these moments there is a palpable air of tension in the room as the audience experiences Christopher’s confusion and anxiety first hand.
With its intelligent script and powerful messages about acceptance ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’ challenges society's definition of normal and after watching Christopher’s interactions with his family and peers I found myself questioning the validity of the labels society forces upon us and wondering how these labels subconsciously affect my own beliefs and behaviours.
‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time’ is beautifully crafted and expertly delivered.