“It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears’ house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead.”
A story about a young boy who discovers the strange appearance of his neighbour’s dead dog, being reviewed by a blogger who can’t even bring herself to watch Marley & Me…
It goes without saying, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy the award-winning theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Though, I put my initial reservations aside to attend Monday’s press event at Milton Keynes Theatre, to mark the end of a two-year UK tour of the highly successful theatre adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best selling book.
Not only was I intrigued whether I’d be able to last the full two hours and thirty minutes without tears, I was also curious about the play’s extraordinarily long title.
Whilst the play certainly delivers in terms of emotion and poignancy, it is the boy, Christopher’s own personal journey overcoming the stigma of his learning difficulties that captivates the audience.
After being wrongly accused of killing his neighbour’s dog, Christopher sets out to prove his innocence by finding the real culprit, against his protective father’s wishes. And so unravels a story spoken in Christopher’s narrative and brought to life in an interactive cube stage-set, which hones in on his extraordinary mathematical brain.
Throughout the play, Christopher’s forthright and quizzical nature is mistaken as rude, arrogant and uncaring; common misconceptions of those with learning difficulties. The play cleverly immerses its audience into Christopher’s world as they witness his struggles to be taken seriously, despite his astute knowledge for details and photographic memory, exceptionally acted out by Scott Reid. His teenage angst and mental health issues had in the past caused his mother to lose patience with him, resulting in tensions between his parent’s marriage and we witness his somewhat overprotective father become volatile. It soon becomes apparent that the only person who truly understands and accepts Christopher is his teacher Siobhan, who encourages Christopher to be brave and study for his A-level maths.
Coincidentally, it is Siobhan who narrates the story, told from Christopher’s perspective and as a viewer, you can’t help but be moved and amused by their relationship.
Scott Reid’s protagonist role is supported by a superb cast, who similarly to the set design, enhance the interactive experience of the play with seamless choreography, beautifully acting out Christopher’s movements. The spaceman and London underground scenes are some of the most memorable of the production and I was wowed to see this brought to life by the exceptional cast.
The cast also brings humour throughout, providing light relief to the underlying serious issues of the play, meaning these issues are not forced upon the viewer but instead provide endearing scenes to fully engage the audience.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is raw, funny and very real. It is not pretentious in the way it tackles issues such as mental health, isolation and separation. It’s a heartwarming production, which succeeds in educating as well as entertaining its audience. Though I have not read the book, I loved the award-winning play adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott.
Not only was I was surprised in my complete and utter enjoyment for the play, I left the theatre moved and inspired. In all honesty, I’d love to see it again. My friend Jo and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at MK Theatre.
Sadly, whilst the above gif suggests we were truly in the spirit of the play and Christopher’s enthusiasm for maths, The Pythagoras Theorem is still lost on us!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is only showing at MK Theatre until Saturday 16th September, which is the final stop on the UK tour – Get your tickets for this must see play on the following link *click here*
Have you seen the play? What did you make of it?
*Tickets to the play were provided by MK Theatre in return for my honest review.*