Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The play is a faithful adaptation of the book by Mark Haddon
Just saw the UK's National Theatre production of The Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the book of the same name by Mark Haddon. It was performed at the Academy for Performing Arts to a pretty much full house.

The story is about Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old who is on the autism spectrum, but it is not explicitly explained in the book, nor is it in the play, but the audience quickly discovers he doesn't like people touching him, is exceptional at math and cannot tell a lie.

The stage shows how Christopher's mind works
When the play opens, he discovers his neighbour's dog Wellington has been killed and wants to find out who did it, but no one will tell him the truth. That's when he decides to do some detective work and conduct an investigation, which is how he discovers the truth about his parents.

Meanwhile the set is like looking into the inside of a black box that is a grid showing space and time. There are 896 LED lights on the grid and they help illustrate what is going on in Christopher's mind.

The story is quite intense, not only from the amplified noises that someone with autism may hear, but also the conflicts in the story that at times seem impossible to solve. The "strangers" that Christopher encounter don't understand him, and it shows the challenges in dealing with someone with autism.

For Hong Kong this is important for people to see -- there isn't enough awareness of autism here and this play gives me and many others an idea of what it's like -- that anything can trigger screams and inadvertent assaults that are mistaken for violent acts.

Christopher (right) discovers he can't trust his father (left)
As someone who hasn't read the book, the production wasn't as moving as I had hoped, whereas those who have read the novel are happy to see it pretty faithful to the book. Perhaps it was the jarring lights and sound that made it harder to watch, whereas reading the book, the reader would use his or her imagination to empathize with Christopher.

Nevertheless, it was a very interesting play to watch, one that was very physical and creatively used technology to further enhance the audience's experience in watching the play.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Until March 18
Lyric Theatre, Academy for Performing Arts

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