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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - National Theater Live

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by Rosie Kate Whitney (subscribe)
I'm studying English at Leeds University, eager for experience in writing.
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I'd like to say that I spent last Saturday night nestled in a comfy seat in the front row of the National Theatre, eagerly awaiting the critically acclaimed (and lengthy titled) play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I read the book as a youngster, and had heard of Marianne Elliot's success as co-director for the smash hit War Horse, and I was keen to see the on stage adaptation. However, being a (broke) student and home for the summer in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, my chances of getting down to London were pretty slim.

When my mum mentioned that the local cinema was doing a live streaming of the play my nose wrinkled just a little bit. The cinema in question is situated in a rather doubtful town, and I was apprehensive about paying for a ticket and having it spoiled by chattering and popcorn munching. Nonetheless, I was resolved to see the play, and so booked tickets for a comparatively cheap 6.10 (much cheaper than the combined London train fare, hotel booking, food and theatre ticket). I say the food was cheaper, I don't think anywhere other than a cinema could get away with charging four pounds for a small bag of sweets.

When we arrived at the cinema we wriggled our way into our seats and waited. There were a few pre-show clips showing an insightful interview with one of the actors, clips from rehearsals etc., and then the show began.

Luke Treadaway was brilliant in his exceptional portrayal of the autistic protagonist, Christopher. He perfectly depicted the innocent ingenuity of the young boy, seamlessly reaming off complex math equations and rationalisations with the genuine harmlessness and innocence of a child.

The stage design itself was stunning, and almost upstaged the actors. An innovative setup which, aided by projectors and a grid floor, presented images depicting Christopher's warped view of the world. The minimalistic use of props, (limited to several plain white boxes, a train track, an alarmingly real rat and a few other bits and bobs), combined with a few scenes of interpretive dance, perfectly embodied Christopher's saturated world of pure reason and rationality, with a spine chilling sense of loneliness and a simple lack of understanding of the social and the emotional.

But it was the streaming program itself that stole the show. The preordained camera angles were tremendous and essential to the success of the evening (I'm ashamed to admit I was half expecting one view from one camera, plonked on a tripod in the aisle of the theatre). The cameras were carefully programmed with the dialogue and action to ensure that at no point during the play, The variation gave us close-up views, (all the better to admire the acting), and most importantly, a birds-eye view allowing us to appreciate the wonderful choreography and stunning aesthetics of that genius floor. The sound mixing is my only (teeny, tiny) complaint, as on occasions the music (which was conducted to spine-tingling perfection) slightly overpowered the dialogue. The intermission was happily accompanied with a countdown to the restart of the second half, eliminating the panic rush back to the seats, and the almighty antagonist to the theatre: numb bum syndrome.

Overall the experience was wonderful, the play was barely marred by the streaming and it was, most importantly, a rare opportunity to take advantage of a cheap cheat to watch a high class of cultured theatre, and I wholly recommend it.

Details about productions and venues available on the National Theatre Live program can be found here
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