I was convinced I’d read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, but after seeing the play last night at Wales Millennium Centre I now know that I haven’t, but I must!
Following the life of fifteen year old Christopher Boone (Scott Reid) as his world tumbles down around him upon the discovery of Mrs Shears’ dead dog. Christopher is treated pretty appallingly by everyone he meets along his journey to discovering who killed the dog, as well as finding out the truth about his mother and father’s relationship.
I immediately liked Christopher. I thought he was smart, quirky and at times I could completely relate to his situation. I could also relate to his parents, desperate for that one that one chance to hold and physically connect with their child; something I certainly take for granted day-in and day-out.
The set was extremely clever and well thought-out, my theatre buddy was extremely impressed with how things connected, slotting together and creating scene after scene of Christopher’s life. I loved the use of a door for a railway line, or the use of a drawing board for Christopher to explain his theories and discuss emotions, or the way props slotted in and out of drawers on the walls; it was very impressive indeed.
The performance is partially narrated by Siobhan (Lucianne McEvoy), who I presumed was Christopher’s teacher or support worker of some kind, although at times she appeared to me as a guardian angel. She, for me, was the one person who stood out as seeing him as Christopher, no more or less, just Christopher. She seemed to be a voice in his head, guiding and supporting him always, and I thought this was a pretty beautiful relationship.
I adored the use of other actors on the stage, from popping in and out as different characters, to the use of them as chairs or doors, and I adored the moment when they moved Christopher around the stage and across the walls, with flips and dips, whilst he navigated London and the Underground.
Christopher’s relationship with his parents was a complicated one. Arguing, affairs, violence and misunderstanding all fuelled the difficult and turbulent relationships. His parents both love him, that’s clear to see, but they both have a hard time seeing what’s right for him…
I loved Christopher’s determination; his bravery attempting to reach London and tackle the sights and sounds of the big city. I completely and utterly understood each feeling he had in the big city, and I have (at times of high anxiety) cowered in the corner, grounding myself away from the mania of city life. I think these parts were portrayed perfectly, the loud crashing sounds, flashing lights and the lack of compassion from fellow human beings. It was perfect. And for a moment, Christopher helped me feel a little less alone.
The intolerance of people has always been a problem for me, I see it every day I head out with my own children. They’re rushing around happily yet grown-ups constantly shove past, huffing and darting dirty looks their way. I think that, no matter what your ‘issues’ (I prefer ‘preferences’) may be in life, we should all be accepted and treated as individuals.
I’m not a fan of labels, even ‘blogger’ and ‘home educator’ make me cringe some days, because I truly see the world as people, doing the things they like and that suit them. Each person being so beautifully different means that labelling them and boxing them in takes all their individuality away…
So, when everyone labels The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with ‘Asperger Syndrome’ or ‘Autism’, it’s a huge relief to read that this wasn’t actually author Mark Haddon’s intention. I have spent many times defending my children’s ‘behaviour’ over the years, in particular in busy places, and recently I threw out the phrase ‘sensory issues’ and I immediately felt repulsed by my own words.
As Mark Haddon so beautiful shows us through the wonderfully unique Christopher, the story reflects much more about society than it does about an individuals preferences. Whether that’s struggling with noise, busy places, shared bathrooms, the point is we as a society love to label and box, we love to know what we’re ‘dealing with’ and we think it’s easier this way. But it is not…
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we were all a little kinder, a little more tolerant of each other and our ‘quirks’, then perhaps people like you and me (and Christopher) wouldn’t feel quite so alone in our differences.
It was a very thought-provoking performance, and the ending for me was a very sad one. It made me feel somewhat hopeless, but then, after sleeping on it I now feel hopeful. It’s because of this play, because of the book, because of the people reading and watching and then discussing it that the world may well change.
So now I’m left with hope. A hope for a better, more accepting, more understanding and more loving world.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is running until May 6th and tickets start from £18.50.