I am sure many of you out there have read the wonderful novel The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-time by Mark Haddon.
Having looked back on Goodreads, I read it in 2009, some 5 years ago. I was rather late to the party with this book and felt then that I was catching up with what I had missed. It was first published in 2003. Now here I am talking about it some 11 years later. Why?
The reason is simple. Since 2012, (so only 2 years late to this party) it was made for the stage. At the National Theatre and starred so recognisable faces in particular, Una Stubbs, Niamh Cusack and Nicola Walker. For those who might think something rings a bell, it is at one of the performances in late 2013 at The Apollo where the roof collapsed and the current West End production will start a new run in June 2014.
It is also due to tour and will be coming to a local theatre near me in 2015.
However, through the National Theatre there is a wonderful way of being able to see productions without having to negotiate London or pay rather a lot to travel and for a ticket. The NT Live idea is bringing theatre to everyone. I knew of its existence but last year was the first time that I participated and went to see The Audience, earlier this year was War Horse. So here I am again and this time with three friends. The reason being that two of them have children showing similar traits to Christopher the main protagonist in the book and they have never read the book. The original screening was in September 2012 and this was an encore screening. (Fancy word for repeat but who cares? – Not me!)
What we saw was actually quite breathtaking. It was so cleverly done that actually watching it through film, meant we could see much more than perhaps if we had been right there in the theatre. There was very little in stage scenery and a limited amount of props. Conveying the story without words was left to the physicality of the actors and the placing of lights and boxes. It all sounds a bit far out there, but it worked beautifully and why – because you need to focus on the characters and the plot not the set. The set is and was in the background, it just was a vehicle on occasions to tell part of the story.
I have found this clip, that perhaps shows you a glimpse of the performance and where I am coming from in regards to the use of the stage.
All of us were moved by it and because it was a while since two of us had read the book, it brought a completly new dimension to it all. It is well worth a watch. Of course the book is a must read too.
Once home I had to find what I wrote about the book. It has never been featured on this blog as I read it before I started blogging.
This book is so cleverly written that I am not sure where to begin in reviewing it. The layout, the chapter numbers, diagrams and illustrations just add to the ‘cleverness’.
It is narrated by the lead protagonist Christopher Boone who upon discovering Wellington, a neighbour’s dog dead (by method of garden fork driven through him) embarks on finding out who done it in his own murder mystery. However, Christopher has a problem; he has Asperger’s Syndrome and has never been further than the end of his road on his own. How is he meant to solve this mystery if he cannot even do that.
Haddon creates a character and a real feel for Christopher. As readers we see him tackle all the things he cannot cope with; being touched; touching food; the colours yellow and brown; crowds and noise to name a few. A very black and white world suddenly turned upside down and inside out. Added to this Christopher finds out his mother is not dead, and to anyone else that would no doubt come as a shock but to Christopher he has all these other things to deal with. Despite all his fears Christopher sets out to find his mother.
This book is both informative and sad all at the same time. The snippets of insight and knowledge that Christopher uses as his safety are perhaps someone who does not suffer from Asperger’s does not appreciate. Or perhaps as a reader you can relate to some of it. I did, I like order, lists and timetables leaves me feeling safe and structured in a very complicated world. However this does not mean I am devaluing Aspergers as until having read this book I knew very little and probably still do.
Haddon’s portrayal of Christopher in experiencing the London Underground made me feel upset, claustrophobic, frightened as well as a huge sense of achievement once Christopher arrived at his desired destination and all that he had achieved. This was a really important part of the book for me, which is why I have mentioned it in the review.
A book that touches you at so many level that I have found it difficult to review. All I can say to anyone not sure whether to read it or not – you must. It is one of them books that would appear on the countless “books you must read before you die” lists – therefore read it. It is a must!
And as for the film, well you could say that is what I watched, as I had to go to the cinema. However, it has been optioned by a film studio (Warner Bros) and is being adapted. When we will see it though remains a curious mystery.