Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Multi-award Winning Play Recreates Magic Of The Book
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is an extraordinary experience.
It's clever and innovative and has transformed the acclaimed book of the same name by Mark Haddon into a celebrated multi-award winning theatre production by The National Theatre.
Fascinating scenes in the multi-award winning play
Following the antics of Christopher, a 15-year-old with Asperger Syndrome, the audience sees the world through his eyes, so it makes perfect sense that it often becomes a sensory overload.
The stage is the most ingenious I have seen in a long time - almost totally computerised with the ability to show graphics, lights, maps and whatever else may be whizzing through likeable Christopher's mind on the floor and three walls encasing the action.
I saw the show at Birmingham Hippodrome, early on in its UK and Ireland tour, which continues to cities including Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds and Bath. All in all, it will be performed 341 times on the tour.
We join the teenager as he discovers the neighbour's dog dead with a pitch fork through its heart. Wrongly blamed for the horrendous act, Christopher sets about solving who actually killed Wellington, but ends up revealing hidden family secrets as well.
A breathtaking stage impresses
While the show starts off as a witty, light mystery it moves on to a much more emotional drama ahead of the interval showing the toll that a condition like Christopher's has played on his parents.
There's some touching moments too, like when Christopher says the rain makes him think of exotic places where the water has evaporated from before travelling to his home. Then there's the fantastic outer space experience when imagining his dreams of becoming an astronaut.
Actor Joshua Jenkins is formidable as Christopher and is utterly believable as the always factually correct, complex teenager that doesn't know how to tell a lie. It's a compelling debut with the National Theatre for Jenkins.
He's supported by a strong small team of actors taking on many roles, including Geraldine Alexander as his gentle teacher Siobhan. She is almost hypnotising with her kindly, soft voice and well-suited as a narrator, in part. You may recognise her voice and face from many TV shows including Miss Marple.
Emotional scenes between Christopher and his dad
Stuart Laing is also extremely moving as Christopher's understanding father Ed but ultimately it's the live animals in the show that seem to attract the most attention. There's Christopher's pet rat Toby (kept in a cage, for those of you frightened of rats) and the most adorable puppy you are likely to ever see.
It's easy to see why this production received seven Olivier Awards in 2013, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. But then there is a powerhouse of creative talent behind it. Marianne Elliott, who co-directed the National Theatre's famous production of War Horse, directs this play while Simon Stephens, who was behind Birdland and Blindsided, was responsible for adapting it for stage.
There was a lot of live up to in recreating this book, after all, the 2003 novel went on to win more than 17 literary awards, including the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. It's also been translated into 44 languages.
Joshua Jenkins is outstanding as Christopher
This production has, however, managed to distinguish itself in its own right and even comes across as funnier than the novel.
It's not often that a film or theatre show manages to live up to the book but this is one of the exceptions. Even for those who haven't read the novel, it is a wonderful, mesmerising piece of theatre that you won't want to miss.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
May 26 - June 6, 2015
Mon-Sat Evenings at 7.30pm; Wed Matinees 2pm; Saturday Matinees 2.30pm.