Based on the award-winning 2003 novel by Mark Haddon, the National Theatre’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ is a fast-paced and thought-provoking production that any theatre lover must see.
From the moment the actors take to the stage, it becomes evident why this play has mirrored the book in scooping top gongs - picking up seven Olivier Awards including Best Play in 2013.
It is the story narrated by 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties”, who begins to play detective when his neighbour’s dog Wellington is killed.
As a role, the protagonist is not an easy one to play. Christopher’s condition is never actually stated, although there have been suggestions of Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism and savant syndrome.
It is a physically demanding part that requires the audience to see his way of life, to feel his emotions, to understand his literal thinking (don’t ever talk to him in metaphors), while also making them laugh. Something that during The Lowry’s staging of the show, actor Joshua Jenkins did with ease.
His physicality, gestures, energy, and comedic timing means he has everybody in the auditorium in the palm of his hands, and his rapport with other actors is also worthy of praise. His scene where he transforms into an astronaut is particularly astounding, as is the conclusion to Act One.
The other cast members all do a flawless job of taking on multiple roles, going from a named character one minute, to part of the ensemble next, to keep the plot flowing and maintain engagement. Stuart Laing gives an extremely memorable performance as Christopher’s dad Ed, while Gina Isaac also stands out as his long-lost mum Judy - the pair helping to tell the tragic tale of a family torn apart by pressure.
But it is not just the people on the stage that make it the resounding success it is. The imaginative set, the exhilarating score, the stunning lighting rig, all help to make Simon Stephens’ adaptation one of the most spectacular productions of the moment.
With all the action taking place within a huge mathematical grid, it is my recommendation for anybody wanting to see this show to purchase either circle or upper circle seats.
Throughout the production, Christopher tells us he will be (no beating around the bush) getting an A in his A-Level Maths. A grade he successfully achieves.
And now his fictional part has helped create an A* piece of work that captures the heart with its innovation and imagination. Five stars.