Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ is *that* book. The hubby and I rarely read the same books but this was one which we were both agreed was fantastic. And news that the theatre production of the novel was headed to the Wales Millennium Centre meant tickets were quickly snapped up.
Brought to the stage by the National Theatre, with the script penned by Simon Stephens there was a great deal of scepticism as to how this novel would transfer. And of course, there was no doubt, in these hands it would be handled sensitively and with a trust instilled. On stage, much of the text of the novel is interwoven, the context of Christopher’s own book being turned into a play being a part of the production is a clever insertion, especially when Siobhan steps out of a situation to discuss this transfer with Christopher, which leads to a “clever” conclusion.
If you’ve not come across the novel, it is definitely worth the read. Taking in the character of Christopher Boone the tale follows the path of the whodunnit who, after being accused of the murder of his neighbour’s dog, goes on to undertake his own investigation, which leads to twists and turns, and challenges for Christopher. What makes the story more intriguing and adds the surrounding humour is the complexity of Christopher. A 15-year-old is a maths genius with ‘behavioural problems’ which take in an inability to receive physical contact and the inability to do anything other than tell the truth, and a true advocate of ‘stranger danger’.
Transferred to the stage, what I loved most about the play was the use of sensory triggers to translate Christopher’s reactions, the use of sound which builds as Christopher’s mind overloads, the clever lighting box set which is multi-faceted in use- with hidden doors, a chalk board, a planning grid- the ability to create new environments, but more to translate Christopher’s moods and immerse the audience within them.
Christopher is played by Joshua Jenkins, absolutely awesomely, every physical characteristic consistently portrayed, and the ability to move the audience with the struggles and frustrations, whilst at the same time, allow the audience to laugh and enjoy the honesty of Christopher’s behaviour.
I loved Geraldine Alexander as Siobhan, the calmness which surrounded her and allowed Christopher to be teased out fully, to be nurtured and understood. Contrasting with the character of Ed, portrayed by Stuart Laing, with emotion that moved the audience to the edge as he tried to support Christopher as best as a parent can.
The simple staging, the use of white boxes and lighting to create scenes is so clever, which is accentuated through the choreography within the play, the train and underground scenes are absolutely amazing, adding in Christopher’s character and interpreting his mindset physically makes some great theatre.
Definitely exceeding expectations, the transference from book to stage has allowed the sensory impact which faces Christopher to be more fully explored, whilst remaining so true to the novel as not to disappoint.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is on tour to November 2015.