Following an acclaimed and highly popular UK and International tour, the smash-hit National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time returned to London for a strictly limited season and is certainly a production that you do not want to miss out on; even if you have seen it plenty of times before!
Over the years, three million people have been blown away and amazed by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. If you have yet to see this beautiful play then this could quite possibly be your chance and something we would thoroughly recommend! The winner of 7 Olivier Awards and 5 Tony Awards including ‘Best Play’, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brings Mark Haddon’s Best-selling novel to life on stage. This phenomenon has been adapted by two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens and is directed by Olivier and Tony Award-Winning director Marianne Elliot. Setting up home at the historic Piccadilly Theatre, this 2 hours and 30-minute long play is one that will be very popular among theatre-goers new and old.
At the centre of this wonderful story is Christopher Boone, played by Joshua Jenkins (A Soldier in Every Son, King John, Holby City) who is a brilliantly intelligent and switched on 15 years old who has a condition that is on the autism spectrum. The story follows his relationship with school life and with his parents, both of whom are impacted by his disorder. During the story, Christopher discovers that a neighbour’s dog has been killed. He takes it upon himself to discover the culprit and records the whole investigation in his diary. It is this that drives the whole plot forward and is narrated to the audience by his teacher, Siobhan (played by Julie Hale). His note-taking is meticulous, always assessing the situation through his own unique perspective. However, the quest to solve the mystery forces Christopher beyond his comfort zone and into a series of challenges.
Joshua Jenkins puts in a phenomenal performance as the teenage protagonist whilst being supported very well by the entire rest of the cast. Simon Stephens provides a masterful adaptation of the novel to the stage. He has done very well to use techniques such as breaking the fourth wall to ensure the medium is used to enhance and supplement the storytelling.
This is a narrative that certainly resonates with young people and the book of the Curious Incident is usually featured on school recommended reading lists. Bunny Christie, the very talented designer has been fearless to create a black box-like design incorporated cleverly throughout. This really helps to assist not only in the storytelling of this wondrous tale but also helps to draw in and captivate the audience and to join the protagonist in his brilliant yet solitary world.
To be fair, the entire creative team have done a fantastic work. The use of physical theatre combined with versatile props allows the play and story to keep moving at a good pace without the need for excessive clutter to be present on stage. The black set also helps everyone watching to understand the highly mathematical mind of Christopher. Even the lighting and sound have been worked and rehearsed well to ensure that both contribute to providing the context and conditions of the action of the play. They also help the audience to relate to how Christopher thinks and experiences the world around him. Plus, the way in which all of the technical and acting facets of the play compliment each other speaks to the brilliance of Marianne Elliot’s directing abilities.
Both Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, the play’s Movement Directors, have worked together in an immaculate fashion to provide movement throughout. The precision and the grace of the entire ensemble is spell bounding as they set out to complete one complex physical theatre sequence after another.
A special mention also has to go to Jill Green for being able to cast this play brilliantly well. The cast blends together flawlessly in a near enough seamless transition which pays true testament to the hard work that has gone into this production from start to finish.
Throughout the entire play, there are aspects that contain light humour, which work really well to help dilute the serious subject matter at the heart of the play. However, this humour does not distract from the central core of the story which is underlined with both sensitivity and empathy. Everything involved in the play, from the acting to the set design to the lighting and the sound helps the audience to become engulfed in the protagonist’s world and as a theatergoer this is a wonderful thing to be a part of as escapism is, to a degree, what we all go to the theatre for. However, not only do we see this from Christopher’s point of view, but also that his family; and how these stresses can take a great toll on them too, and how hard it can be for other people to understand and grasp the concept of autistic spectrum conditions.
This production is lifted and held together by the central character. It is him that elevates this whole entire production into the stratosphere. It is truly a heartfelt portrayal of a young boy who is widely understood to be on the autism spectrum, and it really struck the chord with various members of the audience; and dare we say, there were a few teary eyes throughout. This truly is a beautiful play with a story that is on par with some of the modern greats. It is suitable and accessible for both adults and slightly older children and makes for a theatre lover’s dream night out.