The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

It’s a sensory overload for main character Christopher Boone as his logical, ordered, linear world of numbers and shapes begins to collapse before him. And there’s no spoilers in revealing it all began with the death of Wellington, the next door neighbour’s dog, who has been fatally speared with a large garden fork.

Now fifteen year-old Christopher must solve the mystery of the dead dog simply because he is compelled to do so. Logic tells him if he investigates this crime he will unravel the truth. But along the way this young, avid Sherlock reader, will tread murky waters and reveal some ugly truths before he reaches an upsetting conclusion.

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) and Geraldine Alexander (Siobhan)in The Curious Incident of the the Dog in the Night-Time2

It was always going to be a challenge to capture the mind of a teenager with Asperger Syndrome and entering the theatre, curiousity got the better of me. How on earth would the linear box stage depict this? But it worked. So incredibly well that it genuinely unlocked an unfamiliar genius world.

The illuminated neon lines within the stage ‘box’ succinctly resembled a neural pathway. It’s simple effectiveness is on a parallel with mathematical mapping – that’s why the mathematical mind of a teenager with Asperger’s makes sense. Christopher is compelled to tell the truth and those of us with a maths background (who by the way revelled in the number crunching) know that the great thing about maths is it’s basically a series of truths – the challenge is what journey you choose to arrive at the truth.

Christopher’s character is played by Still Game’s Scott Reid but I think we can now lose the ‘Still Game’ tag as Scott has surpassed all links with any past comedy where he wasn’t main lead. Still Game’s Greg Hemphill turned up in the audience last night to support his fellow actor but he must have been left with the same feeling most of the audience had – the boy can act. Scott was believable in his powerful and delicate role. You felt his anguish and frustration. You cringed any time someone tried to touch him thinking ‘no, his neural transmitters won’t cope with this feeling’.

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) and Emmanuella Cole (No.40) in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time1

The show was partly narrated by Lucianne McEvoy who plays Siobhan, the teacher at his special needs school, whose task was to blend in and yet be visual and every so often offer a comical ‘nod’ to the audience that this is all for your benefit.

Siobhan has all the patience and understanding of an expert in the field working with children who have special needs and contrasts with Christopher’s mum and dad, Ed, played superbly by David Michaels. We feel Ed’s pent-up frustration as a single parent and carer whose emotions have been stifled in order to protect his son and perhaps himself.

An eleven year-old boy in the audience commented at the end of the first half of the show that he was enjoying it but disliked mum Judy, played by Emma Beattie. But by the second half of the show perhaps his view would have been swayed as there was also an insight into the futility of her world – try as she might she neither had the patience nor understanding to cope with Christopher and it would be wrong for anyone to judge her actions.

Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) in The Curious Incident of the the Dog in the Night-Time5

Christopher’s ordered life was simulated through a series of lifts and spinning round by the minimal cast to portray repetitiveness and movement choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett from Frantic Assembly. And the inevitable disorder was displayed on the linear ‘box’ with numbers and symbols flying chaotically in the air – like a computer back end meltdown.

This National Theatre production of the Olivier award-winning (7 awards in 2013!) show adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best selling book is both magical and breathtaking in its timing and delivery. Hats off to brilliant award-winning director Marianne Elliott excellent award-winning lighting by Paule Constable and video design by Finn Ross. Truly, it was a masterpiece – I defy anyone to not be in awe of this show! 5/5
by Susie Daniels
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time runs until Saturday 19th August at Glasgow King’s Theatre