Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Christopher Boone, the protagonist and narrator of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is highly intelligent, mathematically gifted, 15-year-old. He knows all of the countries in the world and their capital cities, can list every prime number up to 7,057, and he is the first person at his school to enroll in A-level math. However, Christopher is also autistic. He fails to understand human emotion, is easily overwhelmed by everyday stimuli, and cannot stand to be touched.

Our story begins with Christopher’s desire to write a Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery. The format of Mark Haddon’s novel version of the story feels almost like a stream of consciousness, and Christopher writes the story as it unfolds. Because Haddon’s novel is a first-person narrative, we, as the audience, are allowed insight into the inner workings of Christopher’s mind. In Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Haddon’s novel, visual and aural elements, such as stage design and compositional style, are used to transport the audience into Christopher’s mind and allow us a glimpse of the world as Christopher sees it.

At first glance, the set design for “The Curious Incident” appears to be incredibly simplistic. The set is basically a blank 3-dimensional grid that images are projected onto. However, as someone who loves math and avidly seeks to find order and patterns in the world, this suits Christopher perfectly.

The soundtrack for the production of “The Curious Incident” was composed by Adrian Sutton. Because of Christopher’s interests in maths and computers, Sutton composed the soundtrack using a “glitch/techno” style. Sutton also used  prime numbers as a “building block of the score” due to Christopher’s obsession with them. Reciting his prime numbers is one of the few things that calms Christopher when he begins to become overwhelmed by the chaos of everyday life, for, unlike people, prime numbers are logical, constant, and something that he understands. Because of this, it only makes sense that prime numbers be integrated into Christopher’s internal music.

Anyone who has ever met someone who is severely or even mildly autistic can tell you that they are not always the easiest people to understand. This combination of set design and compositional style, among other things, helps the audience to understand the ways in which this complicated character views and understands the world.

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