Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Nottingham Theatre Royal.

This is one of the most interesting plays that i have seen in a long long time. I was told how good this would be and how brilliant the book was, but not wishing to read the book before seeing this wonderful production in fear of tainting the first impressions of the play, it was a decision I gladly took, and a wise one at that.

The book was written by Mark Haddon and the story, told through the book and through the eyes of Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties" living in Swindon, Wiltshire. Although not confirmed in the play, or book, Christopher suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, but the play does not focus on this but Christopher and how he deals with the curveballs that life throws him, starting with the killing of his neighbour's dog, Wellington, after which Christopher makes it his job to turn detective to solve the murder. This is done by the end of Act One which leaves the unfolding of Chris's personal life and the affects his family's actions have made on him.

Joshua Jenkins, who plays Christopher, is one hell of a talent and as we go through the play we discover not only his character acting is spot on as an Aspergers sufferer, but as a dancer and mime artist.

The play highlights not only Christopher's personal lows and triumphs but catalogues the difficulties of being a one parent family from his father's point of view as well as the mother's, creating a well balanced viewpoint.

It shows Chris's school mentor and teachers, Mrs Shears, who was Wellington's owner, Mr Shears who was the reason, or one of the reasons that Chris's mother decided to leave the family home, and Mrs Alexander, who through Chris's stubbornness to bring the dog's killer to justice, unveils the whole mystery of why Chris's mother left home.

Chris has logged all of these developments in his book and when his father discovers the book and hides it away from Chris, he decides to retrieve his book and discovers even more of his past and that his father has not been quite truthful about a certain area of his life.

The story could have turned the character into an object of pity but instead  shows Chris as the unwilling hero of the piece who gets everything that he had wanted at the start, and all with a happy ending.

This is a very technical piece of theatre with a backdrop like an electronic motherboard which throws up lights, images and effects, as well as doubling as storage cupboards for the minimal props, which by the way includes a table and a desk. This means that they props can be recovered and disposed of with rapid ease.

The play is fast moving, in parts it's like watching one scene of a movie changing to the next on a different location, there is literally no time to blink at times for fear of missing something.

Lighting is so important in the above, and lighting designer, Paule Constable, did an amazing job with the complicated and technical light patterns and sequences.

The choreography of the play was almost a showcase of contemporary dance and would have been a joy to watch without the story that wove between the choreographed pieces. Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett are the genius pairing behind what is described in the programme as the "movement directors". Whatever and however they want to describe what the produce, it was magical to watch.

It's a wonderful story where the title gives nothing away and is only a springboard to the events that follow for Christopher and his parents. There is a lot of comedy and some great one liners as well as some excellent choreographed parts, wonderful technical showcase which brings a fresh and extremely modern piece of theatre to the stage. I was told the story was good, I'd read rave reviews of the play and everything I had heard lived up to the real experience.

"The Curious Incident Of the Dog In The Night Time" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 11 April 2015

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