Reviewed by Emma Stubbs
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was a wildly successful book, told from the perspective of Christopher, “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties” – the implication being that he sits somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Where he sits doesn’t matter. The point is that we’re seeing the world through the eyes of a 15-year-old boy who doesn’t see the same world we do. How then, do you turn such a singular, first-person novel, into a theatre production which is by its nature not a first-person medium?
The answer is with tremendous skill. The set is minimal, with graph lines on the floor and walls, and square furniture which Christopher, played tremendously by Scott Reid, fiddles with constantly, straightening and aligning along the gridlines. Projectors are used to incredible effect to guide us through Christopher’s mental state, with the implication being that the stage is the inner workings of his head. It’s pulled off magnificently, and immerses you deeply. I don’t think I have ever been to a production where I have been so absorbed the whole way through.
It’s very much a play of two halves, almost as if it’s telling two different, interconnected stories – a feeling I had while reading the book. And perhaps that’s the point. To Christopher, the whole world is disjointed and confusing, and to understand him, we have to understand his anguish at things that to us are mundane and easily taken for granted.
The cast were perfectly played. Obviously, Christopher was astounding, but the parts of his parents and teacher (who cleverly also took on Christopher’s ‘voice’ as a kind of narrator) were spot on. There is a particular scene between Christopher and his father where there are no words spoken for an incredibly long time, but through the superb acting, you can ‘hear’ the characters’ thoughts. There are scenes that are so poignant and touching, laced with chaotic powerful moments when Christopher is overwhelmed by his surroundings and emotions. The visual, light and sound production is also an integral part, and it is clear to see how hard each department have worked together to produce a work of art that encapsulates Christopher’s experience of the world.
During the interval, reviewers were invited to a private lounge, and the room is usually full of discussion and general chit-chat, but this time it felt that the play had left everyone astounded with its brilliance. The phrase ‘I have no idea how to review this’ was echoed around the room, as it was such a spectacle that no words or superlatives seemed to be able to describe it. The show wasn’t just fantastic from beginning to end, it was one of the finest pieces of theatre I’ve seen for a long time.
“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” asked Inspector Gregson.
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident.” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
The Alhambra was, as always, a welcome venue to visit, and it’s easy to see why it’s regarded as one of the finest theatres outside of London. The staff are always accommodating and friendly, and there is plenty of parking in the area, with two multi story car parks within walking distance, and the evening rates at the Jacob’s Well car park make it an excellent cheaper option.
Tickets cost from£14.50 to £35 (booking fees may apply).
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford from 31 July to 5 August 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.bradford-theatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01274 432000.
Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ | 01274 432000