The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time: 'Beg, borrow and steal to get a ticket'
| By Shanine Salmon
4 years old, three theatres later and National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is still pulling in full houses. It is an excellent example of why subsidised theatre needs to be supported and nurtured, leading to successful commercial runs. It isn’t just that the source material, Mark Haddon’s 2003 award winning novel, is fantastic and accessible for all ages but this production, at the Gielgud, is still one of the West End’s most stunning piece of work.
Curious Incident is about 15-year-old Christopher’s investigation into the violent death of Wellington, his neighbour’s dog. Christopher is a boy on the autistic spectrum, though Simon Stephens’ adaptation doesn’t make this the focus of the play, just as it isn’t the focus of the book. Through Kaffe Keating’s performance Christopher’s traits are all part of an all-round character. He’s logical but incapable of emotion, causing a difficult and painful relationship with those around him. He can endear as much as he can frustrate.
His investigation leads to an opening of a Pandora’s box but The Curious Incident… is never schmaltzy in its journey or conclusion, despite the devastating final lines. You feel for Christopher and you feel for those who have to deal with his eccentricities but it is never frustrating. It is emotional but keeps a detachment, just as Christopher would. It still stimulates its audience, with stimulating noise and lights as part of a simple set design, the train set and tube scenes are an incredible piece of design by Bunny Christie and a really exciting piece of theatre.
It is well supported too, with Rebecca Lacey as Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher who encourages and clearly cares deeply for Christopher and impending Doctor Who companion Pearl Mackie, I enjoyed her role as the Jamaican TFL worker, standing out as part of the small but crucial ensemble. It is clear that the play has strong future ahead and it makes me wish there were more plays that were made for all ages without patronising or confusing its patrons. Beg, borrow and steal to get a ticket to this very exciting and fascinating piece of theatre.