Before my involvement with the Theatre Royal Plymouth Young Reps scheme, I carried the easily-mistakable view that the West End of London is the place to go when looking for the newest theatre productions. It’s understandable to think this; the colossal buzz surrounding some of the biggest named theatres in the world ignites a warming feeling amongst fans of all genres. However, the ability for big productions to tour has now enabled the exhilaration of the West End to come to Plymouth!
Despite being an avid theatre goer myself, I had never been to a matinée show and so it was rather unusual to see the renowned Shaftesbury Avenue without all of the bright lights and illuminations you automatically expect from the West End. Nevertheless, upon approaching the Gielgud Theatre where I would soon be seeing The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time, the gigantic posters surrounding the beautiful, historic building brought back that nostalgic excitement from my many theatre experiences in London.
The book of which the show is an adaptation of – written by Mark Haddon – is itself a masterpiece but my main cause for enthusiasm was the knowledge of this production being produced by National Theatre. The play shadows Christopher, a fifteen year old boy with Asperger Syndrome (AS). He is extremely logical and is passionate about doing his A-Level maths exam. Not only is he great with numbers, he also uses his high levels of logic to work out how things happen – calling it ‘detective work’. The plot begins with his initial investigation into the mysterious murder of his next door neighbour’s dog, Wellington. This then leads Christopher on to a bigger investigation of his own, regarding his family and their difficulty at coping with his behaviour.
It was clear to see that the production team had worked closely with an organisation who knows plenty about AS. This establishment is the national charity ‘Ambitious about Autism’. The honest portrayal of what it is like to live with the syndrome, both for the individual and their loved ones, is extremely enlightening and it was a wonderful experience to share the wide range of emotions depicted in the performance with the audience.
After the show, we had the privilege of getting a backstage tour of the set. Compared to the Theatre Royal Plymouth, the backstage area seemed much more compact and, as someone who has performed plenty of shows, I could not help but reminisce on the excitable rush behind the scenes. The set was visually dynamic and complex so there was a lot to take in when being shown around how things worked. Not only did we get to see how the crew worked with the set, we also got to meet some very special furry guest stars!
Walking past the audience waiting for the evening production sparked something which could only be named as jealousy. This absolutely fantastic show instigated a flurry of emotions in me that I only thought could exist in the original book. Unfortunately, we could not stay for the evening show as we had a four and a half hour journey home ahead of us!
Luckily though, the The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time will be visiting the Theatre Royal Plymouth next March during its UK tour. I am looking forward to paying this delightful show another visit!