The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Adapted from the book by Mark Haddon
Translated by Daniel Efrat
Directed by Gilad Kimchi
Beit Lessin, March 24

‘Awww” says the audience when 15-year-old Chris (Nadav Nates) removes an adorable and real dog from its box. It’s a peace offering from his distraught father Ed (Yoram Toledano), in a desperate effort to regain his son’s trust – the trust forfeited when Chris discovers that his father lied to him, because trust in the tenuous world of the autistic child is an existential necessity.

The word “autism” is never mentioned. In the journal Chris keeps he speaks of “behavioral problems”. His world is bound by ritual and fears; he can’t bear to be touched, can’t stand yellow and brown, is a math genius, never lies, and knows he’s different, not “normal.”

The lie Ed tells is that Chris’ mother is dead. She isn’t, and when Chris discovers letters written since her supposed death two years back, he determines to find her, traveling across London by underground, an act of supreme courage. Not only that. Ed reveals that he killed the neighbors’ dog in a fit of rage; Chris had found the dog, the dog of the title, brutally speared by a garden fork, and he’s afraid his father will kill him too.

Dog in the Night both wrenches and uplifts, and when, at the end of the play Chris says “I can do anything”, you root for him and for the actor who plays him.

Nates annoys and evokes compassion in equal measure, which is precisely as it should be. As his father, Toledano’s body and voice express Ed’s pity, rage and love.

Noa Biron as Siobhan is sympathetic, but perhaps a bit too detached. Liat Goren’s Mrs. Alexander tends to monotony of voice and movement, a characteristic that also affects the rest of the cast.

I wish that our actors could learn really to use their voices and bodies. They’d be so much more interesting to watch.

The set consists of boxes – two walls and a floor of them. The boxes we put ourselves, or that others put us into? Neat! And Yoav Cohen’s utterly brilliant video art design provides excitement.

I wish the production, ambitious and thoughtful though it is, did the same.

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