Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Play: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Playwright: Simon Stephens
Director: Marianne Elliot
Company: National Theatre
Venue: King’s Theatre Glasgow
Performance Date: 17 Aug. 2017
Summary: “Christopher, fifteen years old, stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in the book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.” (Source: curiousonstage.com)
Content Warnings: strong language, “dead dog” prop, domestic abuse, use of a knife.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a truly stellar play. Its plot and protagonist, Christopher Boone played by Scott Reid, are equally unrelenting which made the play so engrossing. At first, I was a bit dubious about the casting choice of Scott Reid in such a young role (Christopher is fifteen years old), but once the first act commenced, I could see why he was chosen. From the beginning, Reid is invested in his role both vocally and physically; a lot of effort and thought was put in for the characterisation of Christopher. On a side note, Frantic Assembly (a physical theatre company) had input on Marianne Elliot’s production, which I think is what made the play so engaging – the audience could step into Christopher’s mind through the physicality of the ensemble.
The main theme of the play is Christopher’s autism, he has Asperger’s Syndrome. Simon Stephens, the playwright of the book adaptation, treats the condition with sensitivity, exploring how Christopher’s father copes. David Michaels portrays Ed Boone authentically, trying to understand his son’s world and thoughts.
In addition, Lucianne McEvoy who plays Christopher’s teacher is a great presence onstage as she encourages Christopher’s interests and becomes the voice of reason when the world becomes too much for Christopher. Elliot’s choice to have Siobhan on stage during certain moments was meaningful as she is possibly the most supportive person in Christopher’s life.
On a side note, I was mildly concerned about Toby who was portrayed by an ACTUAL rat (there were two rats’ names listed in the programme: Dumbo and Meeko – how cute!) on stage. There was one part of the play where Toby’s cage gets thrown around, but according to the programme “no animals were harmed in the making of this production”, so I hope that is the case.
Why did I attend this play?
I read Mark Haddon’s book years ago and its style was quite unusual, so when I heard that it was touring the UK, I knew I had to see it.
Would I attend another National Theatre production?
Yes, I would. I’ve seen three National Theatre productions this year so far, and I look forward to seeing many more!
Simon Stephens’ play is true to Mark Haddon’s fantastic novel. I think this play will continue for many years to come.
– Melissa Jennings
Have you seen The Curious Incident?
What were your thoughts? Let me know!