The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time 7.2.2017

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (TCIOTDITNT) follows the investigative adventures of a teenager “Christopher” who describes himself as having ‘behavioural problems’. The play is an adaption of Mark Haddon’s 2003 book by the same name, and has won multiple Olivier and Tony Awards.

My first experience of TCIOTDITNT was back in 2003, when my college chose to read the book as part of our English Literature class. Although i have been made aware now that Christopher’s condition is not specified, when i read the book a staggering 14 years ago it was considered a ground breaking fictional insight into the challenges of living with autism/asperger’s. 

The play introduces Christopher Boone (Scott Reid), and the revelation that Mrs Shears’ (Eliza Collings)  dog has been murdered (he was called Wellington by the way). The opening scene uncovers Christopher’s struggles with ‘fitting in’ and understanding unspoken societal rules, highlighting how intolerant our world is of anyone ‘different’. The police officer made me cringe – a shining example of someone not knowing how to approach or converse with someone displaying unusual behaviours or learning needs. 

I absolutely adored the relationship between Christopher and his father, Ed Boone (David Michaels). I was blown away by the emotionally charged scenes, and the depiction of a relationship ripped apart by love, frustration, guilt, lies and a wish to ‘make everything better’. One of my favorite scenes was insignificant terms of special effects, but had a lasting impact on me.  In this scene Christopher and his father were talking about the rain, and Christopher explains how all the water in the world is connected. Christopher’s words were so incredibly poignant, and his father’s face spoke a thousand words… irritation, mild amusement, pride, wonder, peace, acceptance…

The play builds an intricate picture of Christopher’s ecosystem and his black and white view of the world. The National Theatre exceeded all my expectations in giving the audience a comprehensive insight into the workings of Christopher’s mind, and the chalk/blackboard set was a decadent sensory experience. 

I was truly amazed at how inventive a performance could be, and the lighting/sound team must be commended for their perfect timing throughout. On occasion both the visual and audio could be overwhelming – a clearly deliberate manoeuvre to give the audience a taste of life through Christopher’s eyes. The scenes in the train station and underground were amazing, truly captivating and slightly terrifying. Observing the sadness, distress, anxiety and communication failures left me uncomfortable, but for all the right reasons.  The script was cleverly devised to inject humour throughout and i liked the occasional reference to the fact that what i was watching was infact a play rather than the here and now!

I was thrilled to see so much physical theatre throughout the entire performance, Christopher imagining life as an astronaut had me grinning from ear to ear. What an incredibly well thought out, synchronised and fun way to get inside the brain of a 15 year old. The entire cast worked in perfect harmony and unison to mimic the movements of train journeys and many other daily actions were made so special and unique during the show.  I had read a disclaimer about no animals being harmed, which i took to be a joke! There is a good reason for this statement (which i won’t share so the surprise isn’t spoilt!) but i will say i was relieved to realise that Christopher’s pet may not have actually been in its carrier the entire time he was travelling through London!

One of my favorite shows in a long time. What a treat.  A heart wrenching, grin inducing, beautiful, reflective piece of spectacular modern theatre. A must see!!!

This show is on until 11th Feb 2017 at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Click link below for ticket info


Saint Petersburg Ballet: Swan Lake 2.2.2017

“Combining classical training and technique, and accompanied by a full orchestra, the company’s magical performances of the best loved Russian ballets have won them international acclaim.

Swan Lake is Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, a tragic tale of love and betrayal with an instantly recognisable score.  This is the epic story of Prince Siegfried and his love for Odette who, tricked by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart and his daughter Odile, would rather die together then live apart.”

Music: P. I. Tchaikovsky
Libretto: Vladimir Begichev, Vasily Geltzer
Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov

Ballet may be an acquired taste, but it was great to see kids, couples and pensioners taking their seats at the Waterside this evening. I was looking forward to an evening of live music and twirly arms, luckily i was not disappointed! Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre was founded in 1994, and is the only classical ballet company in the world completely independent of government financial aid or sponsors funding. I must admit my last brush with Swan Lake had been watching “Black Swan” on dvd some time ago, so i had to shake Mila Kunis from my mind to get me in the zone for tonight’s production.

One of my favourite performers was the jester, who brought plenty of personality to the opening scenes with his quirky movements. He managed to link characters together and lighten the story without becoming overbearing and tacky. There was also one particular chorus member playing several parts who caught my eye with not only her incredible dancing but her stunning good looks too – not that any of the ladies dancing were unattractive by any means! The leading lady playing Odette (who’s name I’m afraid i won’t be typing as my phone seems to take offence to the spelling of most of the cast surnames!) was breathtaking, a true mistress of her art. Her fragility and grace mesmerised me throughout the entire show, and was offset well by her colossal leading man. Although on a technical level (not that i actually know what I’m talking about) Prince Siegfried was bang on the money, i couldn’t help but wonder why he had been chosen for the role. He was a good foot taller than anyone else on the stage, and it made for a peculiar aesthetic against the delicate splendor of his peers. Generally i don’t believe in bashing people for the way they look, but in this instance his height distracted me. 

The entire performance was fluid, engaging and effortless, although I’m sure anyone who has ever danced on pointe will verify the hours of gruelling training and bleeding feet that will have taken place beforehand. If i have to criticise i would say there were occasions when i thought the dry ice may have been overused slightly judging by the full on fogging of some front row audience members! It was worth it though, as the curtain lifting on virginal white swans in the mist was breathtaking. 

In conclusion a fantastic evening, which left me feeling relaxed and glad i swapped TV for a few hours of culture. 

Swan Lake is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 2nd – 4th February 2017. General Tickets: £15.00 – £32.00 + Booking Fees: £1.90 – £2.90