Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
By Hannah Foy
The National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time returns to The Lowry to complete its year-long tour. Adapted by the Stockport born Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has racked up an impressive seven Olivier awards including ‘Best New Play’. After reading Mark Haddon’s book many years ago, I was intrigued on Tuesday evening to see how the book could be presented in a play. How would the audience be able to understand Christopher’s autistic mind? Especially alongside portraying a range of themes, characters and the all-important detective story: Who killed Wellington?
Much to my surprise, the audience was transported into Christopher’s mind, using a mixture of lights, sound and physical theatre, it made me feel as though I understood Christopher’s way of thinking, his logic and his sense. It allowed us all to capture his desperation in discovering who killed Wellington; woven within his own unknown story of a disappearing mother. It was certainly very clever.
In addition the characters appear self aware, firstly of the written book, then its evolution to the stage. This added a further dimension to the incorporated story, of the many twists and turns in Christopher’s life. All of this engaged the audience, placing us into a world previously unknown, while simultaneously allowing an autistic viewpoint to take centre stage, something rarely done.
What I found most impressive, however, was the stage; its use of lights to depict the different scenes and just how many secret cupboards and doors it could hold (even squeezing in a table). It made me re-evaluate the use of the stage, it’s ability to incorporate props rather then simply depicting the scene. How in turn this is reflected back to the audience, not just with flickering lights but how it cleverly takes us from Swindon to London by train, and then imitates a tube station with precise details.
Joshua Jenkins was impeccable in his portrayal of Christopher, opening his mind to the audience and transforming us into Christopher’s story. I felt I understood autism, to view the world from another perspective, see the truth and confusion the world brings to everyday life. The company equally propelled Christopher’s mind to the audience, incorporating the everyday normality to the exceptional while weaving in comedy in their acknowledgment of this self-aware play.
Overall I came out of the theatre beaming, amazed by the clever telling of the book, the acting, the staging and most of all the story. Curious certainly educated me on autism, of stories unknown, and most importantly who killed Wellington.
Concluding its year long tour, you can see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at The Lowry Lyric Theatre until Saturday 21st November. Be prepared to be amazed, spell-bound and taken on a journey.