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9th March 2022

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Sophie Hicks reviews the stage adaptation of the bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Photo: Brinkhoff Moegenburg.

The acclaimed National Theatre production and novel written by Mark Haddon has finally come to the Manchester Opera House. To say I was excited was an understatement, and I wasn’t left disappointed.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows teenager Christopher Boone as he unravels the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog, Wellington. As he tries to figure out this mystery, other aspects of his life are put under scrutiny. I was curious as to how this bestselling novel would be adapted to the stage. One of my friends said that it wasn’t something she could imagine onstage. However, this show has probably proven my friend wrong.

Christopher is quite a hard character to describe, because on paper, you may not like his abrupt, slightly ‘irrational’ personality. Although many have attributed mental health conditions such as Asperger or autism to his character, Haddon has never confirmed anything, nor is it particularly the point of the novel. Although a lovable character, he can be quite frustrating if you don’t understand mental health and how Christopher is drawn to act.

Thankfully, the book delves deep into his psyche as it is a first-person perspective, and the play didn’t falter at this either. David Breeds was stellar as Christopher – his mannerisms captured his anxiety, and his nervous body movements made me believe he was fifteen. He captured the balance of Christopher’s manic episodes and his vulnerability, and I loved every moment of his performance. During the interval, I said that his mannerisms were quite ‘Evan Hansen-esque’, and it turns out that Breeds made his West End debut in Dear Evan Hansen, which I can completely see as his inspiration for his take on Christopher. Breeds was entirely charming as Christopher, and he captured the diverseness of his character’s emotions well.

The entire cast was excellent. I loved Rebecca Root as Siobbhan. It was interesting because in some parts she largely acted as the narrator, which worked quite well because she is the person who Christopher confides in the most. I loved her concern for Christopher whilst still being realistic with him, and without appearing condescending or lowing how she speaks because of his mental health struggles. I also particularly enjoyed how playful she was, with the occasional breaking of the fourth wall.

The most striking part of this play was definitely the staging and lighting. The lighting, in particular, was extremely effective at portraying Christopher’s emotions, particularly if he was panicking as it would be an intense strobe light with projections on the back screen of the stage. Christopher would drew on the floor the illustrations shown in the book, and these images were replicated on the back screen so that the audience could see them. It was a really nice nod to the novel, and I’m glad that they still included many of his drawings because it’s a charming aspect of the book.

This entire production was a showcase of what theatre should be – incredible acting, fantastic lighting, creative scenery and a heartfelt story being brought to life. I genuinely could not recommend it enough, even if you haven’t read the novel, because I’m sure that you’ll have a great time figuring out the mysteries and joining Christopher in his journey.

If you do see it though, wait until after the final bows – there may be a surprise at the end! There may also be some animals on stage, which I was not expecting either.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time plays at Manchester Opera House until 12th March before continuing its UK tour until May.

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