I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid. Not counting Harry Potter (until I got too scared of the basilisk), the Angry Aztec Horrible History book (until it told me that the world would end in 2012) or the Jane Austen my dad used to read to me if I couldn’t sleep, Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-Time was probably the first novel I read. Coincidentally, it was recommended to me by the first English teacher I actually liked. It combined literature with algebra, investigations with constellations, and may even have been my inspiration to enjoy maths.
I was over the moon to see the book advertised as a play in the west end, if not a little surprised and intrigued how they’d pull it off. Managing to get some cheap “restricted view” tickets for a Saturday night, I got myself to the theatre for the first time since Sweeney Todd in 2012, and wasn’t disappointed.
First of all I’d like to point out that restricted view tickets are a bargain. When the price of a seat in the stalls is over £100, paying £15 for a seat where you have to lean forwards a bit is fine. Sure, if I had the money I’d sit in the stalls I’d imagine, but I don’t. I also don’t go to the theatre specifically to seek comfort, I go to watch a show, which I could do perfectly well from the right hand side of the upper circle rested against the barrier. The show had me on the edge of my seat anyway. What made our seats even better was that my girlfriend, Alison, was sat in a designated “prime number” seat, number thirteen to be exact. These designated seats had a grey cover draped over them to highlight them from your average divisible numbered seat, a token to Christopher’s, the main character, enthusiasm for prime numbers.
The set was remarkable. A minimalist cube of neon gridlines, cleverly manipulated at certain points of the show to compliment the scene, with cupboards and stairwells popping up everywhere. I was surprised that a story with the majority of its plot set in a suburban neighbourhood could be staged so futuristically. A lack of props meant that the actors were used for all sorts; a closing door, a human seat, a bed. The way Christopher’s train set closed the first half is a fantastic idea, and had an even greater effect with the Birdseye view I had in the upper circle. The headline actor, John Gibbon, portrays Christopher brilliantly; a curious, mind-wandering teenager emotionally dragged into something that wasn’t his business, or at least began that way. His fathers emotion comes through strongly as well.
The newest character in the final scene, an Andrex puppy straight from the advert (toilet roll not included), will have your heart melting, or leave you questioning why you haven’t got a pet yet. Something I’m still asking myself to be honest – I blame rented accommodation.
One thing I must encourage is that you stay behind until after the curtain closes. You will understand why in the second half of the show. It is truly a perfect excuse to show off all of the technology involved in the production, and will give anyone with a maths a level a reason to show off as well. Overall, a fantastic, heart warming performance, suitable for all ages, and if you’ve forgotten the storyline like I had, a surprising one as well. A must watch for anyone who wants to relive Mark Haddon’s creativity in a futuristic stage show!