I attended two wonderful but very different plays in London.
I’ve already posted about “Showstoppers!,” a musical created on the spot based on audience suggestions on theme and style. (See London: Day 3.)
The second was the National Theatre’s production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” based on Mark Haddon’s book. The touring version was actually playing in the Bay Area earlier this year, but I didn’t go. I’m so fortunate to have caught it in London, especially since I bought tickets only the day before. It was the last row, but it’s not a huge theater. (And the house manager allowed us to change seats after interval,* so we got to see the second half a bit closer and out of the intrusive overhead house light.)
It was a sparse set that allowed efficient scene changes and supplied a blank canvas for some interesting projections on the walls, unusual lighting effects, and some supported wall-walking.
The story revolves around Christopher, an autistic teen who in the opening of the play discovers his neighbor’s dead dog. Through unconventional staging, loud sounds, and bright lights, the audience experiences the world the way Christopher perceives it. We hear his mother reading her letters to him, his father trying to explain why his mother isn’t there, and his teacher, who is a calm voice of reason. And we go on an amazing and sometimes terrifying adventure on London’s Tube.
It was the perfect play to see in London, not only because it’s set there but because I could completely relate to the main character, who is overwhelmed by London’s transit system. There were times in the Underground that I felt as if I may have been walking sideways on walls as well.
Sion Dan Young was believable as the autistic teen, and he had excellent comic timing as well. Although the piece is not a comedy, there are plenty of funny moments that may arise from–but never make fun of–his condition.
After the standing ovation, the Young returned to the stage in character to explain a concept that is mentioned earlier in the play. So if you do go, don’t try to duck out before the applause dies out or you’ll miss a very interesting addendum to the show!
I highly recommend this moving and innovative theater experience.
*Interval is the Brit’s version of an American intermission.