Doing culturally things in the city.
I finally managed to catch the play this weekend! I know I’m very, very behind in my review for this one…writing it just over a year since it first premiered at The National. Nonetheless, I am going to write it anyway and share my wee thoughts. I apologise in advance if my thoughts are exactly what has been said by other reviewers, as I don’t know what they’ve said. (Thought I’d leave the play a surprise and not read any reviews, I’m just a dare-devil like that).
So, yet another critically acclaimed play written by Mr. Simon Stephens. If you live in, work in or have even visited London recently, you would have seen the bright blue posters. You can’t miss them – dotted alongside the tube escalators or plastered on black cabs. From the immense popularity and the fact that it is based on a GREAT book – I was expecting a fantastic play.
Mark Haddon’s novel of the same title is written from the point of view of Christopher Boon – a 15-year-old boy with a condition not specifically described. However, it hints at Asperger syndrome or Autism. He is a mathematical genius and takes everything literally, he can only function facts. Metaphors or things that don’t add up confuse and upset him. So, because the book is so focused from his point of view, I was interested to see how the transfer could be made. There was a risk that the transfer could come across as a ‘problem play’ addressing mental health. Rather than what the story actually is, which is essentially about dealing with and understanding people’s differences.
Stephens was obviously well aware of this risk and has thus created a brilliant adaptation. The stage is the most successful element, being designed like Christopher’s brain, gridded like a maths work book. It also changes into screens which reflect the workings of his brain; displaying multiple numbers or animating what Christopher (played brilliantly by Luke Treadaway) is describing about how he is thinking. The back wall also doubled up as a chalk board which Boon used to work out equations and eliminate culprits for Wellington’s death.
Treadaway was equally as brilliant in the starring role of Christopher Boon. A difficult character to get right and Treadaway completely nailed it. The arrogance Treadaway unintentionally displays was brilliant. Treadaway kept me giggling throughout with his unashamed logic. When asked by his teacher Siobhan if he was happy with his A* for his Maths A-Level, he bluntly replied ‘Well, yes. It’s the top mark!’. On the other side of this, Treadaway was so lovable. When Christopher was upset or confused, he blamed himself and turned into himself. At times when he discovers things that factually don’t make sense I truly felt empathetic for him. It was more than connecting with Christopher on an emotional level, because he doesn’t really show any emotions. So, when he was confused, in a way it was more heart-breaking to watch than any of the other characters on stage, because he couldn’t process anything – neither emotions or logic.
All in all a brilliant cast! In particular Niamh Cusack playing Siobhan, Christopher’s mentor and the omniscient narrator of the play was brilliant. Likewise, Sean Gleeson as Christopher’s struggling father, Ed Boon, was so touching to watch. A man who seemed to be teetering on the edge of stress over-load, kept himself balanced through his unwavering love for his son. A lovely, tender moment occurs between father and son, where Gleeson helps a very distressed Treadaway undress and get ready for bed. That’s just one example of the beautiful relationship displayed between Gleeson and Treadaway on stage. I won’t ruin others for you.
So, Stephens continues to live up to his outstanding reputation. This play is most certainly one to add to his ever-increasing, and ever impressive repertoire of charming plays. I urge you to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time just for the fact that you will leave the theatre with a warm smile on your face.
Plus…there’s an incredibly cute puppy on stage at one point – see the play for this reason, if not for any other reason I’ve addressed above. It was adorable.