Monday, 16 January 2017

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

by Julian Davis

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time garden was a brilliant play, deploying an imaginative use of set, lighting and sound to successfully portray a boy’s battle with Asperger's and the strenuous effect it had on his family and the people around him, depicting an unequipped father trying to care for a mentally handicapped son.  Joseph Ayre's superb performance as Christopher, a boy with intense Asperger's, simply makes the show and is crucial to its success.

The play starts by immediately hitting the audience with an impressive wave of sound, before unveiling a dazzling light show, displaying powerful imagery of a dog dying. The impending tussle with the policeman immediately introduces the audience to Christopher’s problems; his groaning and assault of the police officer shows the depth of the problem facing his family; the father's then haggard appearance accentuates this.                        

Speaking of the father, Nicholas Tenant's performance was another strong point to this excellent play and his chemistry with Christopher, specifically their first argument, left the audience riveted. As well as the drama and the conflict, the space scene, where the audience is given a view into Christopher's mind is a beautiful moment which is symbolic and representative of the entire production, using lights and set to show the galaxy as Christopher sees it, drawing the audience and the world into Christopher's mind and showing the potential wonder that he is capable of, revealing that there is more to him. 

The final scene reinforces this, with Christopher acing his A-levels, his mother and father re-uniting, and managing to keep it civil, and Christopher being given a cute puppy, which he cherishes, ending the play on a heart-warming, happy note. However, one criticism would be that the relationship between Christopher and his mother, played by Sarah Stanley, didn’t have sufficient time to develop and lacked the same sort of depth and emotion that Christopher and his father possessed. 

Overall, the play was a success, intertwining the drama and sadness with moments of comic relief and joy, such as Christopher looking under the bed, and ending on a poignant, joyous note and being serenaded by a rapturous applause. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, and worth the 3-hour coach journey.

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