Review - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: magical and inspiring
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
By Simon Stephens
Based on the Novel by Mark Haddon
Directed by Marianne Elliott
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Season runs until June 24. Bookings www.qpac.com.au or telephone136 246
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a must-see production of 2018. The play is based on Mark Haddon’s novel of the same name, and has has been adapted for stage by playwright Simon Stephens.
It is a heartfelt and empathetic rendition that combines so many interesting elements. For fans, Stephens has remained completely loyal to the original story - bringing it to life in a visual spectacle.
The play visits the world of 15-year-old boy, Christopher Boone, and follows his struggles with communication and compassion. Christopher is equipped with a brilliant mind and can easily digest any mathematical problem. However, after the suspicious murder of Christopher’s friend and a neighbourhood dog, the extent of his behavioural difficulties and Asperger’s Syndrome shine through.
We as an audience anticipated the production would be about a boy and his dog, but it became increasingly evident that it centres on so much more than that. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time created a fully immersive and engaging theatrical experience. It is not limited to a particular market for there is something for everyone in this remarkable stage adaptation.
The joint talents of Director, Marianne Elliott, and Movement Directors, Scott Graham and Steve Hoggett (from Frantic Assembly), allowed them to make the impossible seem possible on stage.
In a range of innovative staging techniques and creative genius, actors defy gravity to tell the story. It’s dancing, creative moment, music, and acting all rolled into one.
The true breadwinner of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is its staging and design. Using every opportunity available, the show moved around a mathematical time and space grid box design. Quite often, the characters became the set or moved blocks to create rooms.
They drew on walls and floors, which was then replicated on every side of the set so all audience members had a vantage point. It was quite unbelievable how it all fitted together. The stage isn’t big enough for a ‘neighbourhood’ but with the use of clever lighting and sound, it was effortlessly imagined.
Thanks to a highly skilled creative team, including designers Bunny Christie (set), Paule Constable (lighting), Finn Ross (video), Ian Dickinson (sound) and Adrian Sutton (music), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a masterpiece.
One of the stand-out moments was how information overload at a train station was portrayed. We as an audience saw the extent of the shows capabilities and received true insight into someone’s mind. Another memorable highlight was in the first act. Without giving away too much, it involves a train set that is made right in front of our eyes.
Audiences were spoiled and propelled into Act 2. It was something we could see coming the entire time, but completely magical when realised. It was attention to detail at its finest. It was easy to fall in love with how everything moved on stage and at times, directorial techniques took us by surprise.
The action rarely stoppped. But when it did, the significance was utterly compelling. There was so much ebb and flow, and light and shade that it was unlikely you would lose focus.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is especially relevant for our time. One of the glorious features within this production is that audiences came to understand Asperger’s Syndrome – it was educational and powerful.
With a small cast, the players committed mentally and physically to their roles. As lead character Christopher, Joshua Jenkins was quizzical, determined and a true hero in the story. He didn’t miss a beat throughout the production and showed true dedication and acting determination.
Jenkins was supported by three other lead roles - Stuart Laing as his father Ed, Emma Beattie as his mother Judy and Julie Hale as his teacher Siobhan - who all assisted him on his journey. The remaining ensemble actors made up a range of other characters to also aided the story line.
All the actors are stars in their own right. Not only are they committed to their characterisation, but their bodies intertwined as the show developed. At points, they became furniture, propping each other up, they rescued Christopher from an oncoming train, and made him fly through space.
It was magical and inspiring.
I urge you to book a ticket before time runs out. The UK’s National Theatres touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is dazzling, enjoyable, pertinent and sucks you in from the get go. We may only be half way through 2018, but I’m calling it that this show will be the best this year.