Wednesday, April 11, 2018

UK National Theatre's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'

The friends bought us tickets to the international production of National Theatre's (UK) 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'. What a thoughtful awesome gift! This version is adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott. It premiered at Soho's Gielgud Theatre (on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Rupert Street) in 2012, has finally ended its run in June 2017. The show has gone on tour, and Singapore got to see it this month.

The actors were brilliant. Joshua Jenkins deftly brought out the inner world of Christopher Boone. The set was wonderfully, for the lack of a better word to describe it, futuristic. Light and sound flawlessly complemented physical theatre. It’s highly effective and impressive. That electric train running through London's suburbs and downtown skyline was such a hoot. And OMG, that cute little Labrador puppy at the end melted everyone’s hearts. Yes, a real puppy that appeared for all of two minutes.

Of all of Mark Haddon's works, this 2003 title is probably the only one I really enjoy. I think that this play stayed true to the essence of the book, fleshing out what we thought Christopher might look like, and how he might be (voice, vibes, movement) if he is our neighbor, classmate or cousin. We know the story pretty well, and the themes it brought out.

However, in the play's 2012 premiere, Mark Haddon himself warned audiences and readers not to refer to the book as any yardstick of understanding the behavior of people on the spectrum of autism and Asperger's. Mark Haddon wants this book to be more than about a behavioral disability. One still can’t help but link to that. We know how flawed humans are, and that parents can’t and don’t always necessarily make the right choices, and that love might not be the guiding light. Mark Haddon's 2012 concluding statement reads,

If I was being contentious I might say that Curious is not really about Christopher at all. Christopher is an outsider, and novelists are drawn to outsiders of all kinds - Robinson Crusoe, Raskolnikov, Holden Caulfield, Jane Eyre, Benjy Compson... - because they grant us a privileged position from which we are able to look back at ourselves. 
If I was being particularly contentious I might say that Curious is not really about Christopher at all. It’s about us.

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