04 October 2012

Theatrical Delights: NT The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time review

Theatre has become a definite new interest.  I prefer going to the theatre now than most movies.  So, when another chance had arisen to take advantage of the National Theatre Live at Portland's Third Rail Repertory Theatre, I was there.

The National Theatre's production of The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time is another example of  amazing stage work that is actually taking place in Britian.  Based the on the 2003 novel of the same name by writer Mark Haddon, the piece expertly adapts the first-person point-of-view book to the stage.  I must, unfortunately, admit that I have never read the book, but knowing the past production value of the National Theatre and being familiar with a couple of the actors in the play I guessed that I would not be disappointed. I was not.

Picture from a www.timeout.com review,
 which gives 4 stars to the piece.
The Curious Incident, as I'll refer to the play from now, had a wonderful stage presence and design.  In contrast to the large main stage used in Frankenstein, this production was played out on a decidedly smaller, more intimate stage, which made me feel at bit closer to the main character, Christopher Boone.  The rest of the company not only acted as other characters, but at times a visual representation of Boone's unique perception of the world (played by Luke Treadaway) around him, as he reacted to the bustle of the train station or simply lying on his bed, takes the audience to his physical space and limitations.

The set was simple, yet ornate.  The only objects on the stage where white boxes, but projections and Treadaway's chalk drawings gave a new dimension that I think could rival the most detailed pieces.  A favorite scene of mine took place on the train. Boxes are set up in rows, as if seats on the train with actors sitting on them when all of the sudden they move to an L-shaped position, lying on the floor next to their boxes.  The POV shifts and suddenly they are, once again, sitting in their seats with a projected scenery speeding by.  I don't know how the actual audience viewed it, but viewing it on the screen, with a changed view was quite impressive.  Another scene featured the same technique having Boone (Treadaway) make his way down a projected escalator.  The stage was at could be a train, a station, a neighborhood, or even Boone's home by the change of lighting and projections.

This is the first time I had seen actor Luke Treadaway, but after this performance I am sure he has a great career ahead of him.  His interpretation of Christopher Boone made someone like who had never read the book and come to the play a bit green, leave the theatre feeling like that had met someone genuine and real.  And, it was fun to see my favorite Mrs. Hudson, Una Stubbs, break out from the confines of Baker Street in this play.

After seeing the play, I do want to read the book for myself soon.  For even though Haddon never claims to be commenting on autism or austim-spectrum disorders, it is clear that Christopher lives with one as do many others in our society.  I think that getting a glimpse into their view and experience in life makes the play and book exceptional works.

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