Adapted from the much loved, best-selling book by Mark Haddon, the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is a powerful representation of how a highly-intelligent boy with behavioural difficulties seeks to solve the mystery of the violent death of his neighbour’s pet dog.
While the condition of asperger’s is not mentioned in the play, the author did at first admit to it being a factor in the lead character’s behaviour.
However, since then, he has distanced himself from this statement, so it is really up to the audience to decide on how much of Joshua Jenkins’ excellent performance as the 15 year-old Christopher Boone is as a result of this condition.
Whatever the reasons behind Christopher’s incredible energy and vitality, his performance is certainly exciting and impressive to watch.
The production at His Majesty’s Theatre recently was a triumph of artistic flair.
In the play, Christopher uses his incredible powers of recall and sheer physical presence to cleverly guide the audience through the complex storyline.
The play opens to the gruesome sight of the dead body of a Labrador dog speared with a pitchfork lying on the stage.
When Christopher makes the grisly discovery, he immediately becomes a suspect, although he is soon cleared by the local policeman who realises the boy is too innocent and upset to have committed the murder himself.
The play’s backstory draws the audience in even further as it includes a bitter split between Christopher’s parents – eventually leading Christopher, who has never ventured much further than the family driveway, to travel to London to seek out his mother.
The play’s lighting, choreography and set are outstanding, with the set walls finished in a matt grey to simulate graph paper – and also enabling Christopher’s imagination to literally ‘light up’ in numbers on the back screens.
Indeed, Christopher’s incredible talent for mathematics and remembering numbers is evident throughout the play, as is his long-held wish to complete his advanced (‘A’ Level) mathematics exam a full three years before his fellow students.
Christopher’s schoolteacher Siobhan (Julie Hale) narrates the play, and she is a strong, calm and reassuring influence for the energetic Christopher – especially when he is thrust into the bright lights of London.
Indeed, it is a highlight of the play when Christopher nervously boards the train to London in a cacophony of light and sound that defies the senses.
Christopher’s father Ed (Stuart Laing) is quite aloof and deadpan throughout much of the play, and seemingly uncaring about Christopher’s emotions and feelings.
However, there are some great performances from Christopher’s mother Judy (Emma Beattie), the Reverend Peters (Bruce McGregor), and Christopher’s neighbour and dog owner, Mrs Shears (Amanda Posener).
The ending is also suitably dramatic – and highly emotional for many audience members.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is a spectacular and technically excellent production that totally deserves its many accolades.
Of course, this is hardly surprising considering it has had successful runs in both the West End of London and Broadway in recent years.
By Mike Peeters