After the roof collapse and venue and cast change earlier this year there were whispers amongst the theatre elite that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time was not the same. The lead actor was too old, they said. It wasn’t as tight as before, they said. However, I am happy to report that all fears can be abated. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is still as moving, innovative and beautifully crafted as ever.
The play, adapted from the Mark Haddon’s award winning book for the stage by Simon Stephens, tells the story of Christopher, a young man with Asperger’s syndrome, as he tries to discover the murderer of his neighbour’s dog. As with all classic detective fiction, though, no mystery is without its secret twists and turns and through his investigations Christopher discovers other, larger mysteries playing around him.
As seems to be the modus operandi of plays developed at the National, the technical design and staging are staggering. From the smallest detail to the impressive, space changing set-pieces, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time never fails to impress. Despite the often vast and jaw-dropping effects, everything in the show feels purposeful and astute. No smoke and mirrors for the sake of it, even the extravagant ending feels considered and perfectly placed.
Furthermore, the troupe manages to avoid the normal clichés and mainstays of physical theatre, which they employ throughout to represent everything from an astronomical fantasy to a busy London station, and create scenes of serene beauty and savage drama. And, despite the breakneck pace the story hurtles along at, the juxtaposition of high and low tension scenarios creates an overwhelming patchwork of a life seen from a different viewpoint.
It goes without saying though that all these bells and whistles would be redundant without the superb cast. Many scenes brought tears to my eyes (as a reviewer I’m normally an emotionally dead, stony pillar of critical acumen) due to the thoughtful acting and directing. A scene in which Christopher lies foetal in his room whilst a full-blown domestic erupts outside had me pretending I had something in my eye for quite some time afterwards.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is still as wonderful as it ever was and it is a must see West End production which, all being well, will be with us for a long time to come
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is showing at the Gielgud Theatre, London and tickets are available here.