‘I Don’t Tell Lies’ – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, 25.4.13 Apollo Theatre, London.

After 4 days apart I returned once more to the wonderful sunny city of London, this time to go and see the Matinee showing of the National Theatres newest production ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’

Playing at the Apollo Theatre with many seats going for £12, it was hard to say no to a chance to see this amazing play, and to be honest if you want to get the full effect of the performance then high is best than down below in the stalls, as you get the full stage view of what is happening within the play. Myself and my friend, were seated front row of the Balcony number 11 and 10 and although we had to lean against the edge we had a great view, with only minor restriction to the back wall, but like I said high is good, and if I was to splash out for this performance again I would go for the dress circle rather than go for the Stalls just so you are raised and can see the amazing layout of the Train set that Christopher creates in act 1.

the stage adaption written by Simon Stephens Curious is based on the best selling novel. that is a murder mystery like no other. The Detective and Narrator (but in this case the writer of the play, as the narrator in the play is that of the teacher) is none other than Christopher, who is fifteen (and 3 months and 3 days) and has Asperger’s Syndrome.  He knows a lot about maths and very little about those around him.  He loves lists, patterns, and the truth. He does not like the colours yellow and brown and does not wished to be touched.  He loves the safety of his own home, and never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he discovers his neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will end up turning his whole world upside down.

I loved the book, having read it whilst attending secondary school and today most schools now have it as a set text (and during this performance we actually had a school trip attend from a English class), and at this moment in time working at my place of work which is a support worker for those with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, I was so happy I got the chance to see this play, as not only is it an insight into the mind of someone who could have Asperger’s Syndrome, but I could relate to Christopher and the those around him that he meets on the way.  However Mark Haddon the writer of the Novel never wished to show that it was Asperger’s that Christopher suffered from as in the program he statesm”I’ve always regretted that the phrase Asperger’s syndrome appeared on the cover of Curious incident when it was first published” though from interviews and behind the scenes of the plays directors and performers they go to say that they are stating Christopher does have Asperger’s in this production.  In my opinion I believe the play does this so well, that it is hard to be angry at them and find a fault, they do it justice and show the Syndrome with such respect that it has had people come to the stage door in smiles stating that they can see their children who have Asperger’s and have allowed them to see it in a whole new light, and to help them through to learn more, and improve their children’s live.

The thing about Christopher’s character is we can all relate to him, and although he is branded with this syndrome, while watching the play we can all see a little bit of ourselves in him. As everyone has a way of how they do something, or how something has to be placed.  I myself alphabetise my DVDs and colour code my wardrobe…it this gets messy or one of them is not in the right place…it does irritate me.  Also I cant stand sales in shopping stores I find them messy and I don’t like having to search for something it hurts my head and I have to get out (sometimes that’s the case for some Primark’s in my area again too messy).  Mark Haddon goes to explain when creating Christopher:

“As it happens, when I was putting Christopher together, I drew upon a long list of beliefs, habits, quirks, and behaviours which I borrowed from friends and acquaintances and members of my own family. it would be unfair of me to name the person who can’t eat a plate of food if the broccoli and the salmon are touching, of the person who can’t use the toilet if a stranger has used it. suffice to say that neither of them would be labelled as having a disability. which is only to say that Christopher is not that different from the rest of us. its the number and combination of this eccentricities which cause him his difficulties.” (Haddon 2012)

it just says it all really, so even though in the play they have declared that Christopher has Asperger’s, just think what does that truly mean…?

Now onto the play itself.

First off Staging:

This was my view from the balcony, I may have zoomed in a tad but like I said before being up in those seats we just miss a tad bit of the top from the back wall, however nothing is lost.  The stage is almost set up almost like a grid (as Christopher loves maths this is quite understandable) and during this that lighting and special effects create the neighbour hood, mind maps, and a subway and space.
visually the production is stunning (and its not surprise that they won that Oliver Award for best staging) but its the performers who make it all that more amazing, and create the scenes in the performing space through physical theatre, with them they help create these places in the scenes without them they would be standing in an empty space.

The story within the play was quite true to the script to that of the book, and reading the book once more at this moment in time, you can really see how Simon Stephens didn’t want to loose to much of the cunningness of Christopher, with only a few bits in the book that he missed that wasn’t needed.  What I loved and realised after viewing the production, was during act 1 the focus of the production was the murder mystery book that Christopher was writing about Wellington (the murdered dog), and throughout the teacher reads from it about the investigation, it also the focus when Christopher wishes to retrieve it back from his father who took it from him in hope that it would stop him from ‘meddling into other peoples business’, at the end of Act 1 the teacher comes to Christopher and tells him that the head teacher of his ‘special’ school wishes to put on the play, she suggests that they should perform Christopher’s story. He replies no.
However in act 2, you see slowly traits of a play coming into the performance for example, while he finally goes to his mother flat, he quickly corrects his mother and her partner that what they are doing was wrong and did not happen, stating that it was her that gave him the drink, and she was more angry when she spoke than what she was doing when the partner handed him the drink.  So in other words he was ‘directing’ them. Also when Christopher wishes to tell how he solved the maths problem from his exam the teacher goes on to tell him that maybe the ‘audience’ doesn’t wish to hear how he solved it, and to help him get out of his strop she suggest that if they wish to see the answer that they can stay after the curtain call, so they break character and are stating they are performing at this time. But the biggest notice is that he states at the end that “he wrote the book, and put on the play…”  So Act 1 was focused on the book, and Act 2 turned out to be a play within a play so to speak.

We had no understudies in this performance, and I was so thankful for it! the cast was as follows:

Christopher Boone – Luke Treadaway (winner of Best Actor at the Oliver’s)
Sioben – Niamh Cusack
Ed- Sean Gleeson
Judy – Holly Aird (winner of Best Actress at the Olivers)
All other parts were played by the Ensemble with the likings of
Sophie Duval, Nick Sidi, Matthew Barker, Rhiannon Harper-Rafferety, Howard Moon.
And even Toby (Christopher’s Pet Rat)
Audrey or Marilyn.
the ensemble together were great, and really created the story and allowed it to flow creating different and various characters in a swift and convincing way and it was lovely to see Frantic Assembly (physical theatre company) help make this production and teach the ensemble just what can be produced, and expressed through the arts of our bodies, such as creating bed, and showing the frantic, and business of a underground and train station through swift and beautiful movement of that of the human body. (when you see it you will understand.)
The other principles also created a wonderful performance, Sean, and Holly who played the roles of Ed and Judy in other words mother and father of Christopher really demonstrated in a lovely and understanding way of how a parent of a child with Asperger’s would most likely be.  You could really tell how hard it is, but how much they really loved Christopher and longed to hold him, but would only get the small touch of a hand, throughout the play you have mixed emotions for them also, you love, you hate, you sympathise with them, and you could really feel their frustration yet love at the same time. Holy won Best Actress at the Oliver’s, and I hope she share it with Sean cause they both deserve their recognition for such an amazing performance.
The role of the Teacher Siobhan was performed by Niamh, who is described as the narrator of the story especially in act 1 where she is reading mostly from the book that he has written. But also Christopher’s conscience in many parts of the play, having worked with Christopher at school you can see how much she has influenced him, and how she has assisted him through day to day life (this is the role I can mostly relate to with my line of work I am doing now, I can really see the bond that she has with Chris with those I have with my client in my job) and when Christopher steps out of the comfort of his own home you hear her helping him in his mind to get him through step by step especially in the underground scene, and shows just how much influence she has on him.
Luke Treadaway, wow just wow is all I can say and rightly deserved his Best Actor Award at the Oliver’s.  From watching him in interviews and then watching him on stage, when he becomes Christopher he really does become a whole new person, and he again is the main reason why this play shows Asperger’s Syndrome in such a respectful way.  He must have studied hard and worked with those who had Asperger’s to give it justice, with his constant fidgeting, and mind moving, the way he pronounced and said his lines were all spot on, that you just loose yourself in his performance and you can’t take your eyes off him.
This is a must see play, and I have recommended it to everyone I know, especially those in my line of work, and you can really relate to the play even if it is just one minor bit, you will say to yourself ‘yea I know how they feel’ or ‘yea I do that that!’ if you want to splash out and buy tickets that are in the stalls or in the dress circle, but don’t be put of by £12 and think they will be crappy seats, cause they aren’t! I also believe that if I was to see this production again I would most likely find something else that I have missed from the previous viewing, it really is a play that keeps on giving! GO SEE!

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