If you haven’t seen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time yet, what is wrong with you? The stunning play, currently showing at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End, won a record seven Olivier Awards in 2013, and continues to encapsulate, entertain and thrill audiences eight times a week.
The story concerns Christopher Boone, who has Asperger syndrome, who is investigating the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog and his relationships with his father and school mentor. But the mystery doesn’t end there – both for Christopher and the audience – in this amazing play. Here we round up four things we still find curious about Curious Incident.
What on earth happens to Toby the rat?
In one scene, Christopher introduces the audience to his pet rat, Toby, and the audience sees a real rat on stage. But later, while still holding Toby’s cage, Christopher is seen running all over the stage (literally, walls n’all), and you’re left there thinking, HOW is that rat still breathing, let alone still on the stage?
Of course, there’s probably some sleight-of-hand going on somewhere and the cage housing the rat is feasibly switched for another by fellow actor, but the effect of seeing Christopher clutching the one thing he still trusts (Toby) throughout the ensuing chaos is very powerful.
How does Christopher remember all his lines?
The actor playing 15-year-old Christopher is barely offstage during the two-and-a-half hour run of the show, so it’s a marvel that he remembers all of his lines. Not just a verbose role, the part of Christopher is also an incredible physical one too (as are all the roles in the show), so it’s little wonder that there is two actors who share the part.
If you manage to stick around after the curtain call for an extra special treat, it’s just an even further testament to the turgidity of these roles – it’s a true powerhouse performance and utterly brilliant.
It’s a play within a play, about a book about a book
One of the cleverest things about Curious Incident on stage is how it knows it’s a play, a performance of Christopher’s story which he is writing on stage, which in turn is obviously based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel of the same name.
There’s a fair amount of breaking the fourth wall going on here, with the character of Siobhan (Christopher’s teacher and mentor) also acting as something of a narrator for the audience. In doing this, Curious Incident adds another layer to its original storytelling, particularly in the way it tells a story based on a book in such an expertly theatrical way.
The Prime Numbers
Christopher deals with his anxiety by counting numbers, in particularly prime numbers. Throughout the audience, seats have been designated Prime Numbers seats by Christopher (so random rows where seats 2, 3, 5, 7 etc.) might be selected, where audience members can win a prize (boo, we didn’t)!