A National Theatre production of Mark Haddon’s acclaimed novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, arrived at The New Theatre, Oxford this week. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows the story of fifteen year old Christopher Boone as he struggles to make sense of the often complicated world around him.
Adapted for the stage by playwright Simon Stephens, this show has proved immeasurably popular since it opened at The National Theatre back in 2012, and it is easy to see why.
The show captures your attention right from the off, beginning with a scream and a very rude word (parents be warned!) as a lady discovers her beloved dog dead with a garden fork sticking out of it’s side. This discovery is the catalyst for the events that follow as Christopher turns detective, determined to uncover the truth about what happened to the dog.
Scott Reid is exceptional as Christopher; his portrayal is both empathetic and unwittingly comedic, showcasing Christopher’s immense talents as well as highlighting his difficulties in a world which presents itself differently to him. It is an understated and deeply affecting characterisation which enables the audience to put themselves in Christopher’s position and understand a little more about his autism.
Indeed, everything in this production is innovatively designed to convey the struggles Christopher faces as a young man with aspergers, from the physically demanding choreography and loud, distorted sound to the ordered ‘graph paper’ set design and the frenzied lighting and graphics used as his anxiety rises.
The supporting cast truly are just that; supporting both the narrative with clever interludes and physically supporting Scott Reid as he carries out demanding choreography. Lucienne McEvoy is a constant source of calm as Christopher’s teacher Siobhan, whilst David Michaels is heartbreaking as his utterly devoted and emotionally drained father Ed Boone. Watching Ed struggle to reach out to his son in a way that Christopher can understand and cope with is one of the most poignant themes underlying the play.
Without giving too much away, you must stay past the applause – I promise you it is worth it for one of the best breakings of the fourth wall that I have ever seen. If you only see one show this year, please make it this one.
Where can I see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?
The play is currently touring the UK, playing at The New Theatre, Oxford until Saturday 27th May.
For more information or to book tickets visit their website.