The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opened at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, North Wales Monday night.
As statement of intents go, starting a play with a woman screaming ‘holy f***’ and a garden fork sticking out of a freshly slaughtered man’s best friend is a fairly strong indication this isn’t your ordinary production.
But then again, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time isn’t an ordinary story. Originally a best-selling novel, it tells the tale of Christopher, an Asperger’s sufferer who turns detective after discovering that dead pet (a dog, Wellington, and very dead) on the front lawn of a neighbour’s property.
The biggest success of this wonderful play is the deft way it represents what it’s like to suffer from a condition which means the world presents itself differently to you than almost everyone else.
Christopher is unique, and credit must go to Scott Reid for a perfect performance as the 15-year-old which judges the anxieties (the colour yellow, strangers, being touched) as well as the methodical thoughts and literal-mindedness of an Asperger’s sufferer just right.
It’s in the way he scrunches his fists and holds on to his trousers as his stress levels rise, and in the hums and restless hands pounded on his own head as his senses overload.
But it’s also there in the setting. A grid which flashes up scrawled smiley faces, prime numbers and warning signs in lights depending on Christopher’s current state of mind. In the harsh crack of distorted sound as he breaks down, or in the lights which follow his thoughts as he searches under a bed for clues (“Five pairs of shoes,” he muses, “a magazine called ‘men only’.”).
The audience is taken deep inside Christopher’s mind, and that journey is the one which brings his story spectacularly to life.
Praise must also go to the cast which help Christopher recall the details of his journey as it reaches its dramatic conclusion, which his teacher Siobhan (Lucianne McEvoy) turns into the ‘play’ the audience are watching.
David Michaels plays devoted but drained dad Ed with just the right amount of rage, and an ensemble cast pop up to play various colourful characters from Christopher’s life, adding a comic touch to the clinical setting.
If you have an evening free this is a show not to be missed!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at Venue Cymru, Llandudno until Saturday 15th July. Bookings can be made via the website http://www.venuecymru.co.uk, by calling 01492 872000 or the Box Office.