Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

The curious name of the play simulcast from the National Theatre of London that I saw today is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.  The long, amazing play adapted from a novel of the same name was about an autistic 15-16 year old named Christopher. In the first scene Christopher has discovered the neighbor's dog in the backyard, dead with a garden rake in it's body. The neighbor lady finds Christopher examining the dog and assumes he killed it.  He did not.  He decides to find out who did.  This leads to a complex unfolding of his family life. Throughout Christopher shows many of the signs that autistic people have, he cannot bear to be touched by anyone, he is a  mathematical savant, he is a total naif about practical things.  He lives with his well meaning father; his mother has left and the father says she is dead.  But she is not.  Christopher is taught by a very understanding teacher but he is constantly at odds with the world in which he lives. 

The National Theatre's production is a masterful blend of realism and technological stage craft.  Luke Treadaway who is Christopher is never off stage. This is a tour de force for the actor and he is always perfect, high strung, vulnerable in character.  Watching Christopher negotiating the world where his family understands his special needs and the outside world does not is painful and enlightening for the audience. Always a riveting production I came away once again in awe of what a world class theatre company like London's National Theatre can do.

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