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

Speaking of dogs, I was as sick as one the night I saw this play. Really. The more intimate the scene, the more my throat tickled and I was using all the power of my being to avoid coughing like a person diseased. No matter. Headache and sniffles besides, I’m very glad I made it to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Auckland Theatre Company’s latest offering at the Q Theatre on Queen Street.


Myself and the Tony Awards Committee would highly recommend this play to anyone (although for the sake of public health perhaps avoid attending when coming down with the flu). Based on the popular novel by Mark Haddon and developed into a play by Simon Stephens, The Curious Incident takes a bold look at what life is like for a self-described teenager “mathematician with some behavioural difficulties”. The play adaptation has won both Olivier and Tony awards internationally, and with good reason.


I had read the book, but many years ago, and other than remembering the general theme involving a murder mystery and a young teen boy with some form of learning impairment, I had forgotten completely what happened. My plus one hadn’t read it at all. Both of us agreed this didn’t matter in the slightest, so certainly don’t let a case of ‘I-ought-to-read-the-book-first’ hold you back.


When writing this piece I had to check myself because I had assumed the diagnosis of the lead character to be a form of Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, but it turns out Christopher’s condition is not actually specified in the novel. Mark Haddon wrote on his blog that "Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger's....if anything it's a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. The book is not specifically about any specific disorder.”


And the ensemble ATC cast do an excellent job of making Christopher’s different world view come to life. Through his eyes and theirs the audience is taken through a realistic and terrifying journey through London’s train stations, making clever use of audio-visual techniques to amplify the sensory overload that is Kings Cross Station. The staging is innovative, interactive, and perfectly suited to a story about a young man who likes things to line up neatly within their edges (you’ll see what I mean). Tim Earl, in the lead as Christopher John Francis Boone, comes across as a sparkling new talent (also having starred in ATC’s production of Tom Sawyer earlier this year) who isn’t afraid to let a grown woman help him take his pants off in front of a full audience.


According to ATC’s website the first week run is already selling out, with performances running until the 14th August. Don’t miss it.


Michael Smith Photography


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