The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has been a huge success, with productions running simultaneously on the West End and Broadway, along with a UK tour, plus a whole host of awards including 5 Tonys and 7 Oliviers. Three years on from its initial premiere in the National’s more experimental Cottesloe space, it’s still wowing audiences every night across the world. Based on Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel of the same name, it follows the story of 15 year old Christopher who is a mathematical genius but struggles to calculate the day-to-day struggles of everyday life.
As a big fan of the book I was really pleased to see that Simon Stephens’ adaptation stays true to the original text but without being a direct copy, instead adding his own take on Christopher’s tale. I had read the book previously, but the brilliance of the show is that whatever way round you experience the story (seeing the play before reading the book or vice versa), you can discover and enjoy different aspects of each presentation.
One of the first things you notice about the production is Bunny Christie’s inventive and immersive staging. Throwing the audience straight into the mind of Christopher, it allows viewers to access his mindset and see the world in the same way as he does. Graph lines cover the walls and floor and there is a distinct lack of props, with Christie instead favouring the use of white boxes and projections to transport the audience to different scenarios. The set really is as instrumental to this production as the actors themselves, telling the story with an exciting pace.
Another particularly creative element of this production is the exciting movement provided by Frantic Assembly. The ensemble switch between a range of characters, working alone or together to bring Christopher’s mind to life. A particularly special moment comes as Christopher describes his dream of being an astronaut and the ensemble lift him around the stage to resemble being in zero-gravity, as stars and planets spin around the screens behind him. This movement works in harmony with Adrian Sutton’s music, both of which help to make this play as astonishing and inventive as it is. I was interested to learn that the play had been nominated for best choreography at this year’s Tonys and Curious Incident would probably have deserved that title (though it didn’t actually win!)
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time cast is stellar, led by Siôn Daniel Young as Christopher who had clearly spent many hours perfecting and understanding all the quirks of his character to a very high standard. Understudy Siobhan Penelope McGhie gave a similarly assured performance despite it not being her full time role, offering a calming reassurance to Christopher throughout his journey.
It’s clear to see why The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has been such a success - it’s thought-provoking, exciting, inventive and inspiring - and I would highly recommend that you make your way down to the Gielgud Theatre to check it out!
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