Genre: Theatre/Physical Theatre
Venue: Theatre Royal Glasgow
Website: The National Theatre
Presented by: National Theatre Productions
Adapted by: Simon Stephens
Novel by: Mark Haddon
Christopher is different to the people around him and wants to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington the dog, through this Christopher’s life is turned upside and he has to cope with more than he ever has before.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has been adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon and centers on Christopher Boone, played by Joshua Jenkins, a 15 year old boy who has what appears to be Aspergers though it is never actually disclosed.
The walls and floor of the set are incredibly designed in a mathematical fashion, to illustrate the mathematical mind of Christopher. Each surface has the ability to display numbers, and words and provides a fantastic light show on numerous occasions. The design team of Bunny Christie, lighting designer Paule Constable, and video designer Finn Ross have done an amazing job with this.
The structure of the performance is strange and disjointed on occasion though for the most part the mix of physical theatre, storytelling, and straight theatre entwine quite well and create something interesting. The performances however are not as rich and complex as the structure and set design, most of the characters feel silly and farcical especially head-teacher of Christopher’s school Mrs Gascoyne who seems to be there for unnecessary cheap laughs.
Christopher inparticular does not feel as complex as he should, there is a lot to his character and while the physical quirks are well done he is lacking in any real depth and does not elicit the emotional reactions that should come from a plot such as this. The fact Christopher himself has trouble with expressing his emotions should not be reflected within the audience. Christopher does feel like the punchline a lot of the time which I did not appreciate, I feel he is made out to look quite stupid at times which is certainly not the case. Humour is inevitable given the personalities involved however setting Christopher up for cheap laughs is not necessary.
The sound and lighting used to show the overwhelming confusion Christopher feels at certain points is brilliantly done and the point really comes through. Jenkins does a good job of portraying the outbursts of emotions, and generally conveys the character well it just requires that little bit more.
The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-time has a lot of potential to be special, especially given the design involved, however only the surface has been cracked in terms of what a piece such as this could achieve. I understand what was trying to be conveyed however for me personally it did not achieve it. There are flashes of emotiveness, and genuine humour however it is not sustained, though there are some beautiful sequences where we journey into the imagination of Christopher with the set being used to excellent effect.
I have not reviewed this as a comparison to the book by Mark Haddon however it is worth mentioning that the richness, beauty, and realness that fills the pages has been lost in transit to the stage which is a shame.