A mouth full of a title and a play that provides you with food for thought to match. This eye opening play follows the story of 15 year old Christopher in his attempts to discover who killed his neighbours dog. However, the essence of the story is actually about a family broken by a boy’s unnamed condition of Asperger’s, and then when you look closer the underlying messages shine through the cracks in their family. The artistic insight into Christopher’s life exposed many aspects of living with as a teenager with Asperger’s on a multitude of levels.
The set of an empty black box features subtle markings resembling a mathematical grid, tying the visual elements in with one of the key themes of the play. This mesmerising backdrop acts as a window into his world, responding to his emotions and actions. Projections of maths and childish drawings provided a representation into his mixed up mind of wanting to play with his train track as well as solve Pythagoras.
Scott Reid’s straight talking and exposed Christopher opened the audiences eyes to see his way of thinking. Reid’s perfected mannerisms, movement and gestures created a believable character that was easy to sympathise with. The stylised movement from Christopher teamed with his unintentionally witty dialogue made for a stand out performance, which had the audience on their feet.
The secondary characters come in the form of his parents and caring school teacher, Siobhan. His dad longs for a football watching son to play rough and tumble with and a mother is simply overwhelmed with it all. The three of them appear as raw as each other, and it is refreshingly heartwarming to watch them take on daily struggles.
The ensemble supported the main roles theatrically as well as literally with many cast members using physical theatre to become props as small as doormats and beds. The ensemble mostly resided perched around the corners or the stage, onlooking as strangers on to the events, adding focus and anxiety towards Christopher. Their synchronicity and expertise had the audience audibly gasping and murmuring.
The novel written by Mark Haddon effortlessly worked as a play and provided a script that worked across all actors. The interactions and dialogue between characters were incredible clever but the moments of crafted silence spoke the loudest. A tense story needed equally tense dialogue, which is what the cast provided. Moments of humour from Christopher’s dead-pan one liners allowed light relief and brought the audience closer to the isolated teenager.
The flawless choreography from Scott Graham and Steven Hoggart contrasted with jarring lighting created seamless transitions, as well as portraying Christopher’s emotions in times of distress. From the set and lighting to the video element, this production has the mMarianne Elliott’s strong direction means this play can be taken at face value, or explored deeper, to discover satisfyingly significant meaning in the smallest of elements. You get out of the play what you look for, and for me, it does not falter on any aspect.