Based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, and turned into a play by Simon Stephens of Punk Rock fame, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was bound to be an out-and-out success. And the National Theatre’s production, on tour at the moment at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham certainly proved this no end.
Curious Incident tells the tale of a fifteen-year-old boy named Christopher Boone who has Asperger Syndrome, and attempts to find out who has murdered his neighbour’s pet dog. Along the way, Christopher uncovers plenty of mysteries, and discovers more about himself and his family in the process.
“Reid managed to not just meet but exceed my expectations”
The stand-out star of this production was undoubtedly Scott Reid, who played Christopher with a naivety and humour that perfectly matched the character. As a fan of the book, I was unsure how Christopher would be translated to the stage effectively, but Reid managed to not just meet but exceed my expectations, proving a hit with the entirety of the audience who gave him a standing ovation. His re-entering the stage at the end of the show to explain exactly how he solved a particularly testing maths problem was a nice added touch, and truly made the audience fall in love with his character all the more.
“Full marks to the National for pulling together such a fantastic cast”
Reid was supported by an outstanding ensemble cast, with particular highlights coming from Lucianne McEvoy as Christopher’s encouraging teacher, Siobhan, and Eliza Collings who shone in all ensemble roles, but none more so than as the nasal and annoying headmistress Mrs Gascoyne. Full marks to the National for pulling together such a fantastic cast, who all had their moments of fun and hilarity with the audience.
“The use of live animals was also incredibly effective”
Particularly comic were the frequent-enough-to-be-funny instances of breaking the fourth wall. At certain moments actors emerged from the aisles in the audience, were speaking to other characters onstage from the dress circle, and in one memorable scene when Christopher investigates under his father’s bed, the ensemble’s use of the items found there caused the audience to be in fits of laughter. The use of live animals was also incredibly effective, with one particular cute and furry cast member causing fits of ‘awws’, and at least half the audience wanting to take it home with them!
“Simple, highly technological, and weighing five tonnes of steel”
I cannot write this review without mentioning the set, designed by Bunny Christie. Simple, highly technological, and weighing five tonnes of steel, this design, combined with the innovative use of lighting, sound and video ensured that Christopher’s experiences were conveyed incredibly authentically. From the searching of the Tube’s rails for his lost pet rat, to the horror felt when surrounded by people, noise and things, how it felt to be Christopher during these moments was overwhelming and at times shocking, whilst providing a real dramatic thrill.
“Complex and incredibly slick physical sequences”
Movement and physical theatre played an integral part in this production too, courtesy of Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett. Christopher’s dream of floating in space, his terror of London and his memories of his mother were all evoked through complex and incredibly slick physical sequences set to pounding music, which created a vital and energetic feel to the production. The short scenes, flicking between characters and situations was never confusing, but instead kept up the pace of the play, and ensured the plot was delivered without compromising any of the novel’s detail.
“Do not miss out on this heart-wrenching, heart-warming play”
As an avid theatre-lover, I can honestly say that I have not seen anything quite like Curious Incident before. My theatre companion stated quite simply that it is the best piece of theatre she had ever seen. If you get the chance, do not miss out on this heart-wrenching, heart-warming play, and book tickets before it is too late!
10/10 – Utterly flawless
Image Credit: Amy Wilcockson
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ is running at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 15th April. For more information, and to book tickets, see here.