the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Fan Reviews

(All reviews contain spoilers, so don’t read if you intend to go to the play and don’t want to know anything beforehand. 🙂 )

NT Live review by Sally, posted on 14 September 2012

(Sally first posted a review for us on this play on 14 August 2012 when she went to the live show at the Cottesloe. You can read her review HERE.)

I saw an Encore performance of NT Live : The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time on 12 September 2012 at the Poole Lighthouse. It was a very different experience to seeing it live at the Cottesloe.  

Before the play started, someone from the NT spoke first from the balcony (see first pic in the gallery below), saying it was 8 minutes before the show was due to start… so that was good as it gave you a bit of a feel of the venue and excitement building.  They then showed us some footage from rehearsals and a few cast interviews – although not Nicola unfortunately! [Ed : In the first ever NT Live event, Helen Mirren in Phedre (2009), they started the broadcast by showing members of the audience walking into the theatre and finding their seats.]

The biggest difference is all the camera angles you get. It’s not like sitting in one seat and seeing it from that vantage throughout.  In some ways you gain from this, in other ways you lose – although you’ve got more close-ups than you normally see (unless you’re lucky enough to have a front row Cottesloe seat that is!) you lose some perspective on the stage as a whole and what’s going on round the edges. [Ed : To accommodate the cameras, the NT removed two rows of seats from the shorter two sides of the theatre rectangle. On the longer two sides, they placed a camera on a track which is demoted controlled and were moved whenever it was necessary to pick up clips of the actors as they move around the stage.]

Something that did work well though was the overhead camera angles where you were literally looking down on the stage from above – the broadcast used this angle to good effect at various points, for instance when Christopher’s lying on the stage surrounded by a sea of letters from his mother and later when he’s sat crouched at the train station immobilised as commuters swarm past him.  The underground scene came across really effectively too on camera as you were able to look down onto the track and see the lights and scaffolding beneath the stage. [Ed : The actors also wore microphones to ensure that what they say will be picked up by the recording equipment. In normal performances where no microphone is used, the actors were told to raise their voices slightly so that everyone in the theatre would be able to hear their lines.]

Seeing the play a second time reminded me how much movement and action there is in it – so it must be a demanding play to act in, especially with so many emotionally charged scenes too.  Again I’m amazed how the actors pull this off night after night.  The close-ups perhaps conveyed the emotional struggles even more than seeing it live, and it reminded me of the comment Nicola made about there being nowhere to hide for the actors on-stage as it’s performed ‘in the round’ – I imagine it felt even more like that on the night of NTLive! 
However, the whole cast carried it off really well, not least Nicola – you really felt for her character and empathised with the struggles she’d had with Christopher before she left, which were played out again in the excellent scene on the heath, and her anguish on learning that Christopher had been told she was dead.  The second half of the play in particular is good at mixing emotional turmoil with humour, and Nicola invoked quite a few laughs from the audience as well – for instance, with her sharp retort to the dog-walker on the heath and her explanation to Chistopher of why they’re leaving in the night for Swindon (as otherwise someone’s going to get hurt soon – and she doesn’t necessarily mean him!)  And at the interval I heard someone say ‘she was the one in Spooks’ so audience recognition was obviously working too!

The showing was full although it’s only a small cinema auditorium at Poole – probably about 110 people.  There was a 20 minute interval where most people stretched their legs as they didn’t show anything on screen at the time.  There was a good round of applause at the end, not a standing ovation though – maybe there would have been on the night of the live screening though.  From what I heard most people had enjoyed it – and it was quite a cross section of ages – everything from pensioners to families with teenage children.
This was the first NTLive broadcast I’d been to so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – I enjoyed it, and it’s a great chance for the NT to extend its reach to a wider audience.  Given the choice though I’d still prefer to go to the live show and see theatre as theatre!

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