Auckland Theatre Company returns to the stage this month with a fabulous performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time. Held at Q Theatre, it is based on the novel of the same name, and tells the story of Christopher John Francis Boone, who has Asperger’s Syndrome.
The performance starts with a dog killed with a garden fork plunged through its body and Christopher standing above it—cue assumptions that he is the killer. Played by Tim Earl, the quirks of living with Asperger’s are quickly established: the obsessions, the clipped way of speaking, the order, the hyper-sensitivity—in this case to being touched and sound. People who have Asperger’s Syndrome have an incredibly unique view of the world and it is often difficult for others to understand certain behaviours, but The Curious Incident offers the audience an insight into such a worldview. Earl throws himself into his role with an unapologetic and no-holds barred performance that will take you along the spectrum of emotions—you won’t be left untouched.
Christopher lives with his father and attends a ‘special’ school and becomes very driven to find out who killed the neighbour’s dog. His search leads him to discover far more than he ever anticipated and, as his world is thrown upside down, the audience is with him every step of the way as he documents the experience in his own unique way.
It’s only a cast of ten people, most of whom are three or four characters. But what a cast it is! Siobhan Marshall makes her debut in theatre in her role as Siobhan and is very good. Other performers include Serena Cotton and Rima Te Wiata. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to look anywhere else when Rima is on stage…I mean, it’s Rima Te Wiata!!!
Special mention must go to Wesley Dowdell who plays Christopher’s father. Battling losing his wife, alcohol and a son with special needs, there’s anger, just getting through and overwhelming love, and Dowdell does them all so damn well.
In a similar way to To Kill A Mockingbird, The Curious Incident has an incredibly simple set. The ground is white squares, with moveable cubes (which, during the play, will become a table, a chair, a bed, a train) and cubes also hang from the ceiling. In a clever lighting display, images are cast onto them to create atmosphere and follow along the drama that’s happening below. It is a set that relies on excellent directing and acting to fill in the gaps. And it works. The stage is in the middle of the theatre, with seating surrounding it, so the actors are also challenged to cater to an audience behind, in front and to each side of them.
Under director Sara Brodie, the cubed ground comes alive—there is a train scene in particular which is both captivating and impressive.
ATC’s performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is a heart-wrenching yet hopeful story that is not to be missed—whether you’ve read the book or not.
What: The Curious Incident
Where: Q Theatre
When: 21st July — 20th August
Tickets: Get yours here
Image credit: Michael Smith