The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott. Having never read Haddon’s novel I had no preconceptions of the story except for all the praise it had been receiving since its West End debut back in 2012.
The stage adaptation is presented as a reading of the main protagonist Christopher Boone’s own writing, read aloud in segments by his teacher. The result is that the play is presented as a play within a play. Christopher is 15 years 3 months and 2 days old as he proudly tells us, he is also different and an outsider you could correctly say. However, it is never referred to specifically but Christopher from observation is living with an autism spectrum condition that prevents him from engaging in social interaction. This avoiding of social interaction sees Christopher’s trust circle very small but having discovered the murdered next door neighbour’s dog, Christopher finds that he not only has to communicate but he needs to solve the crime.
The moments that ensue of awkward interaction did provide some great comedic moments and Scott Reid was executing the reactions to what ‘strangers’ say and do sublimely. Reid is certainly a face that we will be seeing a lot more of as his talent cannot be denied; he is magnificent, heart-breaking and superbly accurate with his portrayal of a young person living with a difficult and at times troubling behavioural condition. Reid was most recently seen playing the prime murder suspect in BBC’s Line of Duty.
David Michaels (Ed) Scott Reid (Christopher Boone)
Scott Reid (Christopher Boone) and Company
Lucianne McEvoy (Siobhan), David Michaels (Ed) Scott Reid (Christopher Boone) NT Curious Incident Tour 2017. Photo by BrinkhoffMögenburg
Immediately, I was taken with the grid line set that enabled the spectacular interactive hi tech display that we witnessed throughout Christopher’s journey of uncovering the truth of who killed Wellington and unexpectedly his own family secret. Set Designer Bunny Christie was ingenious in her ambition and success of creating a set that took the audience on Christopher’s journey so much so that you could feel, see, hear what Christopher’s was feeling; none more so than his venture to London.
I loved the personal and intimate feel of the narrative; this is largely contributed to the parental relationships explored; Christopher and his Mum played by Emma Beattie and Christopher’s dad played by David Michaels. As with the nature of families, relations can sometimes be fraught even though love is clearly evident and Christopher felt the full brunt of decisions made out of his control. Christopher even informed us that ‘you are likely to be killed by a family member on Christmas Day!’ We then witnessed the heart-breaking truth of how one person’s differences can ripple through a family and sometimes pull them apart. The family drama reminded us that ultimately the choice you make even in difficult circumstances will always have consequences and the truth will be unearthed.
This really is a superb play that will have you gasping from the twists and turns of the narrative then in the next breath wanting to reach out and comfort Christopher. There is also a wonderful surprise in the final moments that will warm your hearts and have you cooing sighs of ‘aww’.
Curious incident is a show that gives a real insight into the difficulties of what being an outsider can bring. Seeing the world through Christopher’s eyes made you acutely aware of how easily everyday tasks you take for granted can be a huge task for another. As Christopher asked his trusted teacher ‘Can I do anything Siobhan?’ I was left hoping that as we gain more perspective about those of us who are wired differently, we can support those people to lead a life where anything can truly be possible.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is running until 6th May.