The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Image of Scott Reid as Christopher Boone on stage in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at MK Theatre, reviewed by award winning radio presenter Nancy Stevens

Scott Reid (Christopher Boone) in the National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenburg.

 

The National Theatre’s production, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon and adapted as a new play by Simon Stephens, is at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Now this is what I call an astounding piece of theatre! Simply not enough superlatives. I had seen the show in February 2015 and was blown away by the superb staging and heart-rending subject matter. A boy with Asperger Syndrome is trying to make sense of the murder of a dead dog and accidentally uncovers the flaws in his fractured family. Once again, I was both moved and amazed at this incredible production. Masters of theatrical staging, the National has triumphed once more, and after the sublime Jane Eyre a few months ago, I knew I would love this show – again.

We meet 15-year-old Christopher Boone standing over his neighbour’s dead dog. He embarks on a Sherlock Holmes-inspired journey (with whom he is obsessed) to find the culprit. Christopher has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, detests being touched, and distrusts strangers. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington.  He possesses an extraordinary brain, is exceptional at Maths, and takes A-Level Maths three years early. His detective work, banned by his father Ed, (David Michaels) leads him on a frightening journey, overturning his world.

Scott Reid as Christopher is convincing and authentic. From the moment he enters, the connection he creates with the audience and his fellow cast is a winner. On stage throughout the show, his energy never wanes, and it gives a brief glimpse into how exhausting and draining it must be to be the focus of attention, and how it affects those around.  Lucianne McEvoy as Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher, has huge warmth and empathy, which befits her character perfectly.

David Michaels plays Ed with such pathos, bitterness and sympathy, it is hard to know whether to resent or admire him.

Bunny Christie’s understated set design reflects the often-simplistic life Christopher has, but also demonstrates how complex and thoughtful it can be. It would be hard to imagine the show without movement direction from Frantic Assembly. I could not think of a better combination to convey Christopher’s inner thoughts as beautifully as this does. Lighting plays a huge part in this production and there are eight projectors in the lighting and video rig. The projectors give 11,6 million pixels of projection – 11,600,000!!.  Doors open from nowhere in the set; illuminating blocks change colour to represent different objects, and the characters appear on stage within this incredible grid to take their place in the story.

Mark Haddon’s story is utterly gripping, though-provoking and imaginative, and it is quite clear to see why this tale has become a set text for so many young children. It teaches honesty, loyalty, and bravery while dealing with maths, space, and Christopher’s behavioural problems in a direct, yet truthful and heart-warming way

Curious is on until 16 September at MKT. This is so worth seeing. PLEASE GO!

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