I’ve heard only good things about The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, so I jumped at the chance to go and experience this play for myself during its second UK Tour. I’ve been writing about theatre and the shows I see on my blog for around five months now, but this occasion presented an exciting new opportunity for me: the chance to review a show for a leading theatre website.
I’m so flipping chuffed to be joining the Broadway World UK team as a reviewer and my goodness, it still doesn’t feel real to me. Curious Incident was my second trial piece for the editor in chief and the first review of mine that’s been published. You can read my formal piece on Curious Incident here, but I decided that I also wanted to keep up the more chatty, informal posts about stuff I’ve seen on my blog too.
So, let me jump right in by saying that this show is not for chronic illness sufferers. You need to trust me on this one. The sound effects and lighting are magnificent, but I personally believe that they make the production as a whole very unsuitable for people with anything more than mild chronic illness/sensory symptoms. The show begins with a deafening wave of sound, and strobe lights are used throughout the whole thing: I missed whole sections of Act Two because I couldn’t physically bear to keep my eyes open. Curious Incident (rightly) makes clear that special effects such as these are used in the performance, but I personally feel that this blanket disclaimer isn’t enough. I can usually handle the occasional strobe effects referred to by these warnings (armed with my dark Primark sunglasses because sensory overload is the spawn of Satan), but this was in a whole other league: I felt nauseous and symptomatic for hours because of it. Despite how good this play is (and I’ll get to that, bear with me…), I really wouldn’t recommend it to my poorly pals for this reason. If you ARE seeing this play and would like more info on where abouts these things occur, please let me know and I’ll be happy to advise.
Right. Now I’ve got that off my chest, lets move on to talk about how awesome this production is. I’ll keep this brief since you can read all about it in my BWW review linked above, but Curious Incident is such a wonderful portrayal of the world through the eyes of a teenage boy with autism. The small cast were wonderful and the movement direction was particularly amazing, but the set and lighting design really stole the show. When I saw Christopher drawing on the floor in chalk and how it was projected across the stage, I was in awe: it was the perfect artistic choice for allowing the audience to peek inside the brain of somebody with autism, and if Ikea don’t end up selling these in real life some time in the near future, I shall be bitterly disappointed.
The whole production just worked: it was meaningful without being preach-y, and really made you think about the tiny happenings of the world that can present such huge obstacles for those on the autistic spectrum. The dialogue was impeccable too: thanks to this play, I can no longer use metaphors in everyday life without thinking about how illogical their meanings can actually be. As soon as I came out of the theatre, I knew I needed to get my hands on the novel to see how it compares; I’ll keep you updated.
The final thing I’d like to say is that if you’re seeing the production, you should be aware of the scene that happens after the curtain call. I only knew about it because I’d read it online beforehand, but when I watched the performance in Sheffield, most of the audience went thundering out of the doors as soon as the last bow was taken. This is nothing new: The Taxi Rank Hunger Games are a staple part of the theatre experience. However, those of us who were left got to witness Christopher one more time, mind-blowingly solving a maths problem that he’d made reference to earlier in the play. As someone with a solid B and proud of it in GCSE Maths, this was a real jaw dropper, even as my already frazzled brain whispered ‘nope’ and valiantly admitted defeat half-way through. But if you’re going to see Curious Incident, it’s worth staying behind for, and it ties up the show nicely. It’ll blow your mind, and you won’t get crushed by the swarm of people who think the world will actually stop turning if they don’t grab the first taxi. Everybody wins!
I also just wanted to mention how incredible my first experience of attending a performance as press/ a reviewer was. My tickets were waiting to be picked up at the press desk among a select few envelopes for people of important organisations. Seeing my name on one of those envelopes was just surreal. Sheffield Theatres treat their reviewers well, it has to be said: I had tickets in the stalls with a plus one, a complimentary programme and a free drink in the most gorgeous function room at the interval. I basically felt like An Actual Important Person, though to the rest of these Actual Important People I probably looked like the inept work experience girl, complete with orange juice, Pukka Pad and my jaw hanging halfway open because OVERWHELM.
Reviewing for something other than my own personal use is in a whole other league. I have lots to learn and work on, but I’m so excited to up my game and hopefully improve as a writer. When I started this blog in January, nattering incoherently about Kinky Boots with no idea what I was doing, desperately hoping that somebody would at least pretend to read it, I never would have believed that I’d have an opportunity like this just five months later. I’m so grateful for another new journey and… *sorry* but this likely means that the stagey fangirling is only going to increase from here. Don’t say you haven’t been warned, my loves.