The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time is certainly a curious tale, telling the story of an autistic boy trying to uncover the murder of his neighbours dog, a book which doesn’t condensate, doesn’t oversimplify, and has recently been transformed into a play so all the world can see for those who won’t read. Part awareness, largely entertainment, it’s helped manifest the feelings of autism through a performance and a stage which is akin to opening ones mind and letting those thoughts and sensations float around on the outside. Very curious.
It’s a fairly straight forward adaptation in regards to the story, with the majority of the books dialogue and thoughts making it into the realm of theatre unscathed, though the math equations and more analytical thoughts are discarded, aside from one which makes a smart entry into the story without dragging the pace down. The actors in the Lowry rendition at least are superb in their roles, with the parents expressing their frustrations and concerns around the star of it all, Christopher, who steals it all, along with the stage.
Christopher and the stage are intertwined. The set up involves three black walls and floor, all capable of producing moving images, which can display maps, house layouts or the overabundance of information one with autism can feel when in a stressful environment. As Christopher goes into deep thought, the stage shifts with him, when Christopher falls into panic, you can see it the world fall apart around him thanks to the flashing lights, twirling signs and barrage of voices. It expresses the condition in the way the book simply can’t, and those meltdowns? All too real. If you know it you will cry, and for myself, sometimes I saw myself on the stage, in a crumple on the floor.
Visual, sound and storytelling all meld into one, and like the book, it expresses the sensations behind autism, without making it feel like a guide-book, a pity piece. Instead the play is an insight into the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly of it all, of us all, wrapping it all together with an engaging story of relationships and order. After all, we all work on that, we all live by that.