Reviewed by Lindsay Harris
A beautifully staged show with a very human story at its heart, this National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time proves why it’s still capturing the nation’s attention as it marks its 10th anniversary.
Following the story of Christopher Boone, a 15 year old who ‘finds people difficult’ and never ventures far alone, our tale begins when he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbour’s dog. Deciding to conduct his own investigation, he soon discovers a bigger mystery and is catapulted onto a journey that takes him further than he’s ever been.
Adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, the story translates very well to the stage, and fans of the book won’t be disappointed by this faithful adaptation, where creative staging and powerful performances combine to bring Haddon’s story to life in vivid colour.
The seemingly simple stage design of black walls is used to great effect, and we’re splashed with bright lights and video effects before they’re suddenly stripped away again, creating stark contrasts between sensory levels. A particularly powerful scene is Christopher’s journey around London, where his sensory overload is conveyed through an overwhelming cacophony of technical effects.
The actors are exceptional, handling complex characters with sensitivity. The leading character of Christopher steals the show, but his teacher Siobhan (played by Rebecca Root) also deserves a special mention for her role as narrator, telling the tale with a perfect mix of humour and gravitas. Sophie Stone also delivered a very touching and believable performance as Christopher’s mother, struggling to cope with the pressures of raising her son.
The ensemble cast also give fantastic performances, smoothly switching between characters to help bring Christopher’s world to life. In many places their performances are very physical, and their movements create a dreamlike quality which is captivating to watch, particularly when illustrating a journey through space. It’s also the ensemble that add much of the humour to the show – look out for the brilliant ‘cash machine’ performance!
I was delighted to read in the programme that the National Theatre team collaborated with neurodiverse advisors for this production of the show, and were committed to employing a diverse touring company. They were also supported in their work by Access All Areas, who (among other things) provided support for neurodiverse actors in the rehearsal room.
The show is recommended for ages 11+ and I’d agree with this rating. There’s some strong language at moments and some of the subject matter is better suited for older children. But apart from the under 11s, I’d recommend the show to all ages and all interests. The performance I attended had a diverse range of audience members, from teenagers upwards, and everyone was on their feet at the end.
All in all, I thoroughly recommend this remarkable production. With a combination of touching family drama, technical prowess and heart-stopping moments, it fully deserved its standing ovation.
P.S. Make sure you stay at your seats after the curtain call – there’s a final addition to the show that you won’t want to miss.
Tickets cost from £18 (booking fees may apply).
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at the Mayflower Theatre from 25th – 29th January 2022. For more information or to book tickets visit https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/curious-incident-2022/ or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre 22-26 Commercial Rd, Southampton SO15 1GE