At the weekend I enjoyed a theatrical treat at the Lowry in Salford –The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is the newly-touring version of the National Theatre play based on the award-winning book by Mark Haddon.
I’ve read the book in the past, and although I had forgotten most of the plot details I knew vaguely what to expect in so much as the story is told through the eyes of Christopher, a 15 year old boy with Asperger Syndrome, a gift for maths and dreams of being an astronaut. Seeing things from his perspective brings a whole new level to what would otherwise be a simple story of ordinary people on an ordinary street, and when there is a “curious incident” involving a dog this sets Christopher off doing a bit of detective work and uncovering some hidden secrets…
I’ll not give away any plot spoilers because the story itself is really quite simple, and this play is much more about the characters and the amazing staging which really conveys what it must be like to live with something like Asperger’s. The stage looks like a 3D graph, which is used very creatively to show Christopher’s very literal understanding of the world, and various lighting and staging techniques convey the limitations he experiences because of his fears of busy places and physical contact. And the amazing acting of Joshua Jenkins as Christopher was also a big part of this!
It was very beautiful to watch at times too, with scenes such as Christopher floating through the stars, walking horizontally around the wall, building a huge train set which grows into a lit-up model of a city.
I also thought it conveyed really well what it must be like to be the parent of a child with autism. I found it quite an emotional to see the ways that the people around Christopher were affected, and how they dealt with him in their different ways.
The Curious Incident… is unusual, emotional, a little bit magical, and also funny in places, and I’d really recommend it. Sadly Saturday was the final night at the Lowry, but the tour continues right through 2015 so there are plenty of places you can still see it.