NT Live: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 7th October 2012
If you haven’t yet seen one of the NT Live films of a play, here is your chance. Saving you the airfare to Britain, you can sit in the comfort of your local cinema and experience superbly acted and directed theatre, which was performed only recently across the other side of the world.
Mark Haddon’s bestselling book about a young autistic boy who goes on a mission to discover who killed his neighbour’s dog is not an easy story to bring to the screen, let alone live theatre. The novel is told entirely from Christopher’s perspective, and the reader’s delight comes from understanding the unspoken layers of meaning in what the boy describes.
Leave it to the National Theatre in London to make it work. Assembling a terrific cast (including Niamh Cusack and Una Stubbs), the actors are plonked on an open-sided stage to perform this intelligent, energetic work “in the round”. The production design is jaw-dropping – an LED-lit floor and projections from above render tube trains, mathematical calculations and Christopher’s first experience on an escalator, while cast members move the simple props and one another from place to place.
On stage the whole time is the terrifying talented Luke Treadaway, whose performance as the embattled 15-year-old is consistently on-note and without caricature. The entire cast is fantastic, particularly Nicola Walker (Ruth from Spooks) who delivers the biggest emotional punches. There are laugh-out-loud moments, home truths, and scenes that may make you well up. Theatre is intended to be visceral and intimate, and this extraordinary production delivers in spades.