26 May to 6 June 2015
Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
Winner of seven 2013 Olivier Awards, this highly- acclaimed National Theatre production, embarks on its first ever nationwide tour from December 2014.
Christopher, fifteen years old, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world…
Based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a thrilling new stage play from the National Theatre.
Well where I start about the performance; phenomenal, deep, moving and thought provoking performance and definitely worth a viewing!
Whilst contemplating writing this review I didn’t know where to start… I am not a “regular theatre goer”, I had not read the book (although I have now downloaded it ready to start reading tonight!) and wasn’t quite sure what to expect before the show started. Therefore if I was to review the performance critically, there lies 2 dilemma’s: 1 – I can’t find any fault in the production, performance or setting and 2 – live performances are down to individual preferences and that from a “non-regular theatre goer” it is hard to compare such a modern production with traditional performances I have seen previously! So I am going to get right to the point (my view)….
This is a show not to miss, either at Birmingham or on the tour! You don’t need to have read the book or the programme from cover to cover to experience and engage with this lively, engaging and ingenious production; you just need to have an open mind. When we first walked into the theatre the staging was spectacular, but not with amazing art (in the usual sense) but that it was basic, but effective (please do not think this is a cheap staging as it wasn’t but gave this illusion of simplicity (like the show)). It was only by looking with a fine tooth comb that you saw all the details that made such a simple staging stand out, the use of “white boxes” as in itself triumphant. The setting and way the actors moved on the stage, gave the illusion of effortless (which I am quite confident in saying it isn’t as the stage was not huge!).
I don’t want to go into too much detail on the show, as for me the real surprise of the evening was the way the story was narrated and the interaction between the actors and the “storytelling”. The illusion of the staging brought the whole story alive, who would have thought that a box can be a wheelie trolley, a tube, a train, a seat, a storage unit? But it is this in itself which enables the actors to concentrate on portraying a moving story of a boy, who has found a coping mechanism through reciting numbers whilst trying to be a “detective”. I have very little experience and knowledge of Asperger’s but the little “quirks” that Christopher had were realistic, and made you think about Christopher’s situation and how everyday activities including shaking hands, talking to a neighbour is uncomfortable for him, as he thinks literally and his neighbour is a “stranger” as she is not a family member…
The choreography cannot be ignored, again in its simplicity but enabling Christopher to walk up walls, sit on a train and run through a tube station! The show flew from one event to the next, with majority of the cast remaining onstage and continuously moving in and out of the storytelling.
I would say the production is a show of 2 halves: the first half is engaging, dramatic and compelling with the second half being more light-hearted but still engaging and thought provoking. I did not want the show to end! It was the first time I had sat through a whole show and not eaten my sweets – they were still on my lap at the end as I didn’t want to blink and miss a thing!
To summarise: the show mixes physical theatre, multimedia and fast, strong dialogue with a strong story and cast. The entire cast were exceptional and empathically acted.
I have told everyone about the show this morning, and have encouraged everyone to go and see it as a must! Even if you aren’t a usual “theatre goer” or not read the book – it’s a chance of a life time to experience a west end production of this standard across the country.
Overall I give this performance 5 out of 5, as I cannot score it any higher!
Tickets cost from £17.50 t0 £42.50 (booking fees may apply)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until 6 June 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 338 5000.
Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB | 0844 338 5000