The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night - Time - Play Review
The detective and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings."
Asperger's Syndrome is a form autism, individuals with Asperger's are often seen as high functioning. However individuals with Asperger's will often still struggle with social norms and emotional relationships. I have read Mark Haddon's novel several times. I have read it when my brother was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, I found myself crying with laughter in parts but also noticing just how accurate Haddon's portrayal of both the challenges the individual and their families faced. I jumped at the chance to see the play in Newcastle last Saturday.
People with Asperger syndrome are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
The cast of the play were all incredibly talented however I was absolutely mesmerized by Sam Newton's portrayal of Christopher Boome.
At one point I found myself wondering if the company had actually hired an autistic actor, Newtons tone throughout the play was often a kind of monotone (unless he was angry) which is very typical of those with Asperger's/Autism as they struggle to read emotions and understand the significance of tone of voice.
When Christopher find the letters from his Mum in his fathers draw and experiences an overload of emotions was such a powerful scene, again when Christopher is processing everything that has gone and he is playing with his train set or numbers appear on the stage. We are watching a young teenage boy find out a lot of his life has been a lie, this would be a lot for anyone to experience but for Christopher who also really struggles to understand the concept of lying and assumes what he is told to always be the truth it is even harder. I think it was powerful that whilst one of the letters was being read he was playing with his train set, as this allowed us to process what had been said in the letter and then fully focus on watching Christopher reaction, if both had been being acted at the same time it may have been too much to process.
Christopher's dad brought a very comical aspect to the play in parts with his witty comments and bemusement at some of his sons thought processes, it acted out the character development of Christopher's father Ed that is also present in the novel well. In the beginning he seems almost mad at Christopher's constant inappropriate actions and burdened by the full-time job of looking after him, however when Christoper goes off to London we really see him heartbroken, we see him begin to not care about other peoples perceptions anymore but just a man desperate to take back the past and rebuild a relationship with his son.
The stage was very minimalist, it was very clever how it was set out like a mathematical grid given that maths is the centre of Christopher's world. I also liked that the squares on the grid staging opened, meaning that rather than constant set changes and runners they just grabbed what they needed as and when. The drawing of the murdered dog remained in the centre of the stage throughout the whole play, this was clever in the sense that even when Christopher went to London, we were reminded that the whole story was centered around the dog Wellington.
In short, it was a fantastic play that really did justice to the novel. What really made it so special to me though was how accurately it portrayed autism.
Lastly since this is predominately a book blog, here are my favourite quotes from the actual book!
“I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don't like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish.”
“And it occurred to him that there were two parts to being a better person. One part was thinking about other people. The other part was not giving a toss what other people thought.”