Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Gielgud Theatre, London

Months after a collapsed theatre roof meant that our tickets had to be re-scheduled (with ease, thanks to the National Theatre!) I was finally sat in the Grand Circle, clutching my programme and eagerly waiting for that moment when the lights dim, the audience hushes, and the magic begins.

I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't sure how the book, in which Mark Haddon so brilliantly portrays a boy with Aspergers, would interpret the uniqueness with which he sees the world. The stage was bare, aside from a few chairs and an intriguing grid of lights and lines across the black surfaces, like a giant chalkboard (a significant observation).

The Gielgud is a tiny theatre in London's centre;  where the seats are steep (unless you can afford to sit in the stalls), the legroom is minimal, but the views and the decor are excellent. There's just something about sitting in a London theatre that fills me with excitement.

Before the play started, I indulged in a glass of wine at the bar. Although my seats weren't the best (a bargain!) those who sit at the Dress and Grand Circles get to wait in a beautiful mezzanine area, looking down upon other theatre-goers, with beautiful architecture around them. Nothing makes a theatre trip feel special like a chandelier. It made the perfect place to await our call into the theatre itself!

Now...the play....

Well, I've been uh-ming and ah-ing about what I can write about it...I desperately want to discuss it with you all, but I'm aware of giving away surprises for those of you who are hoping to see Curious in the future. Spoilers.

So I'll just write this.

Curious is one of those shows which leaves you reeling when the curtain falls at the end. It makes you want to leave the building dancing from one foot to another amongst the London crowds, and will give you a buzz which only the best theatre productions can do. It will leave your hands sore from too much clapping, your heart swollen from the emotion, excitement, magic and creativity of it all.

Curious is an absolute roller-coaster of emotions: humour; sadness; sympathy; panic; confusion. There is not one single dull moment.

As in the book, you are shown the world through Christopher John Francis Boone's unique perspective through the power of words...but, on stage, it's all there. Right in front of you. Visually interpreting Mark Haddon's words and ideas and turning them into symbolic, visual delights. The stage itself turns into a canvas on which diagrams and illustrations are projected and drawn. This is a fully interactive experience, with lights, dance, movement, symbolism, surprises, and even some mechanical wizardry which left my hairs standing on end. There are moments when you can't help but exchange looks with the person next to you, which say 'I can't believe I just saw that'.

The cast were phenomenal too. I completely and utterly believed who they were, and never questioned otherwise. The characters had stepped straight out of the pages and onto a magical stage to tell their story. They used interpretation so well that some illuminated boxes and lines on the floor became houses on a street (yes, really). Graham Butler as Christopher gave an incredible performance- he was believable and brilliant. He was so captivating that you just could not help but get swept up in his thought processes, and his surprise at the end (no spoilers) as superb. The other cast members were also brilliant, with humour in every corner and excellent acting. For such a small cast, they filled the stage completely.

Sitting in the Grand Circle was not, as some might think, a disadvantage. In fact, I think I had the best view of all - I was able to see all of the action on stage, and never once missed some of the magic on stage; I could see every projection and stage movement perfectly, and had prime view of anything that happened on the floor of the stage (which those in the stalls may not have been able to see very well).

I left the theatre feeling inspired, elated and so incredibly impressed by a play which at first, I'll admit, I was apprehensive about. It's a good sign when you can't stop talking about it for days afterwards, recommending it to everyone you know.

I won't go on any more, but I will simply end by saying that this was one of the best performances I've ever seen, and I would really urge anyone interested to go and see it if they can, regardless of whether you've read the book. It is magical and educational and there are surprises around every corner. You can find out more about the play and ticket availabilities on the National Theatre website (though I think the play may also be touring next year).

As I left the Gielgud and darted through the Saturday-night crowds in Piccadilly Circus, the night felt alive and all I could see was falling confetti and the stars through which Christopher Boone and his pet rat, Toby, spun through just moments before on a small stage in the middle of London.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jo, great review. Can I ask in which row were you in?