It is a warm and welcome return to the West End for this Olivier Award winning show based on Mark Haddon’s beloved book.
If there is a show that proves just how theatre can be insightful and educational about a topic that affects people’s lives it is fair to say that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one such production.
Following a UK and international tour, Marianne Elliott’s production has not lost any of its warmth, humour or ability to absorb the audience completely into Christopher’s world. It captures fully of how terrifying the world can be for someone with Asperger’s to cope with.
While the story initially begins with the murder of a neighbour’s dog, Curious Incident predominantly focuses on the day to day routine of Christopher’s life and the way in which he takes comfort in routine and how he is able to use that to navigate the world in general.
Adapted from Mark Haddon’s book, Simon Stephens has created a play that beautifully deals with all of the emotions that comes from being part of a family as well as some of the realities of looking after a child with Aspergers. It is by turns a raw and uplifting experience to watch unfold – particularly when you see just how much Ed is beginning to struggle in contrast to the way that father and son are brought back together.
Thanks to Bunny Christie’s imaginative design and Marianne Elliott’s sensitive but smartly paced production, the audience is allowed to see the world through Christopher’s eyes to give a real insight into this condition – which affects different people in different ways. This is highlighted perfectly in the scene when Christopher reaches London and uses the tube for the first time – he is exposed to all kinds of loud noises and sounds that he can’t seem to register properly, conveyed by Ian Dickinson’s vivid sound design and the necessarily chaos of Finn Ross’s video design usefully highlighting what is going on in Christopher’s brain.
Another important element to this show is the way in which each movement as other characters important to Christopher’s story float in and out of scenes with great grace – almost like a dance to keep the show flowing with ease – as beautifully seen during the scene in which Christopher is investigating the death of his neighbour Mrs Shears dog. It reveals a lot about how Christopher reacts to people and in turn how they react to him (particularly the strangers)- done with sensitivity and imagination.
In terms of performances it would be fair to say that the role of Christopher is not one that is easy to manage. It requires great emotional strength and understanding to make the character seem real without come across as over the top and thankfully Joshua Jenkins is utterly believable and heartbreaking in the role. You feel every moment in which Christopher explodes or panics to powerful effect. Julie Hale also delivers a warm and enjoyable performance as Siobhan, guiding Christopher through the hard times and encouraging him during the good times – the audience gets a real sense of the bond between them. Stuart Laing and Emma Beattie as Christopher’s parents are also wonderfully effective in highlighting the struggles that they both face raising their son.
Overall, The Curious incident of the Dog In the Night-Time is a heartfelt examination of family and the different challenges we all face and it is genuinely lovely to see it back in the West End again.
By Emma Clarendon
A huge thanks to London Box Office for organising LLLC’s ticket! The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues to play at the Piccadilly Theatre until the 27th April 2019.