A lot of things about this production are quite curious in themselves. This is a stage adaptation of the much-loved book, which received a lot of praise during its first run at the National Theatre. With some of the original cast following its transfer to the West End, this is a production that doesn’t quite strike a chord with everybody in the room.
It tells the story of the autistic Christopher Boone, who finds his neighbour’s dog murdered by a fork. A garden fork. A tale of family separation and the difficulties that Christopher, played superbly by Luke Treadaway, faces on a daily basis. But more drastically when he decides to move to London, is what follows. With such an array of characters around him, not all quite delivering the strongest of performances, we get to know Christopher and his personality traits quite well. Family life isn’t great for Christopher, and with his A-Levels looming, which he is sitting early, it’s understandable why he seems a little all over the place, but it’s quite difficult to believe how some family members respond to his situation.
The design by Bunny Christie is absolutely superb. The building of a child’s train set is inspired, and there are numerous moments that instigate an involuntary gasp; the aesthetic of this production is by far the most pleasing aspect. The trouble is the way in which all of the astounding moments of walking on walls and lighting up London with figurines, actually make all of the realistic and banal moments far too realistic and banal: in these moments we start to miss the real four walls of a room, but we shouldn’t because the majority copes so well without.
The stage adaptation isn’t one to fall in love with, and it has Simon Stephens, whose reputation precedes himself, stamped all over it. Granted, that’s far from a bad thing; there are moments where his ideas suit the large scale production now being staged in a much larger venue than where it was born, but there is ample reason to have reservations about whether there was nobody else more suitable for the job. The switch from being staged in-the-round as it was initially, to now being in a traditional proscenium arch is one that may have had some hindrance. It’s quite easy to imagine why in the Cottesloe, this was a must-see, but it’s not quite living up to every expectation in its new home.
31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 7ES
Box Office: 0844 579 1971
See before 4th January 2014
Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton
This article was originally published on: http://whatspeenseen.co.uk/ and is reproduced with permission of the author and founder of the site, Adam Penny.