Review - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (UK Tour)

It's been 5 years since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time first bounded onto stage at the National Theatre. An adaptation of Mark Haddon's ever popular novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has enjoyed just as much acclaim as its source material, having bagged the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2013, along with 6 other Olivier Awards including Best Sound Design, Lighting Design and Set Design. With such prestige, it's easy to understand why the show is currently embarking on its second UK tour. 

Scott Reid and the cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time UK Tour
Photo credit - Brinkhoff Moegenburg

The play follows Christopher Boone, a fifteen year old boy with Asperger Syndrome, who finds his next door neighbour's dog murdered one evening and decides to try and find out who is responsible, despite his father's objections. Simon Stephens' adaptation does well to maintain many of the elements that made the original text so compelling. Christopher's investigation is intriguing, but it's his relationships with others which drive the play to deep emotional depths. 

The lead role of Christopher Boone is a challenging one, both emotionally and physically, and so the stamina and agility of actor Scott Reid must be acknowledged. Christopher's relationship with his parents is very much at the forefront of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and actors Emma Beattie and David Michaels do a terrific job of portraying two sides of a family torn apart. The play does not shy away from the tests associated with raising a child with Asperger Syndrome, and in fact, some of its deeper emotional weight stems from the audience witnessing Christopher's parents' distress. Nevertheless, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is all the better for its honesty. When Christopher shares his dreams for the future (to complete his A levels and then go to university and finally become a scientist) he asks his mentor whether she thinks he can do anything he wants to do. Her silence is more than enough to wrench the guts of the captivated audience. 

Bunnie Christie's award winning set design is a brilliant addition to an already excellent play. Although it is rather calculated and clinical, reflecting Christopher's passion for maths, when it comes to life it is a marvel. Appearing at first to be rather basic, a brightly lit square box surrounded on 3 sides by black video projection screens, it soon becomes apparent that the stage is much more multifaceted than first imagined, with multiple hidden doors, cupboards, and even a full desk sliding out of one of the back panels. The set is also littered with hundreds of LED lights, which work alongside the aforementioned video projection to create a sort of tech based wonderland, inhabited by scarpering dogs, where prime numbers fall as precipitation. There are several instances where all of the play's technical elements come together and are combined with fluid movement pieces choreographed by Frantic Assembly's Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, resulting in some eye popping and electrifying sequences.

Pacey and full of surprises, it's hard to imagine a play more polished than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Simon Stephens' adaptation perfectly balances the light-hearted with the heart-breaking, resulting in a painfully beautiful play which is nigh on impossible to fault. A must see!

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