When I first heard about one of my favourite books, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, was being made in to a play, I felt like this:
But I brought a ticket anyway. Although there are moments that made me feel like this:
It is a funny and uplifting journey and I left the Apollo Theatre feeling like this:
I am very defensive of books, especially the accuracy and care of adaptations. It’s rare for a film, television show or stage adaption to fully capture the spirit of the book, however there exceptions to the rule. The National Theatre’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ is one such exception. Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel of the same name follows Christopher Boone as he solves the mystery of what happened to his neighbour’s dog, Wellington. But Christopher is not an ordinary 15 year old boy. His disability should not be labelled as ‘Asperger Syndrome’, but his dislike for people touching him, the use of metaphors and need for routine certainly makes life difficult for him and those around him.
The book is distinctive in its telling; Christopher is writing the book as events unfold, it is a story about a story, Christopher’s story of self-discovery and curious incidents starts with the story of the dog in the night-time. Director Marianne Elliot and stage writer Simon Stephens faced a challenge. This style of storytelling works beautifully on paper, but on a stage, an extensive use of monologues can bore an audience. The narration is shared amongst the cast and Christopher’s, played by Luke Treadaway, thoughts are shared in imaginative and humorous ways.
Elliot and Stephens are aided by Frantic Assembly, a thrilling, energetic and unforgettable theatre company with a unique physical style that combines movement, design, music and text. Together, they show rather than tell. As Movement Directors, Frantic Assembly uses the actors on stage to create Christopher’s world and help us understand his dreams and anxieties. They create organised chaos as Christopher enters the over simulating city of London. Scenes and action, time and place change seamlessly before our very eyes.
Simon Stephens has done well to give life to the novel, keeping the charm and innocence Mark Haddon weaved into a story about rats, numbers and growing up. Christopher’s calming method of counting prime numbers and other magical mathematical mannerisms are brought to the stage with the use of computers and projectors, four to be exact.
Not just adored by the public but by their peers. At Sunday’s Oliver Awards, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ walked away with seven awards including: Best Actor, Luke Treadaway; MasterCard Best New Play; Best Director, Marianne Elliott and Best Lighting, Sound and Set Design. ‘Curious Incident’ is a feat of acting, movement and technical brilliance. They work together to create one unique, prime piece of theatre.