The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - review

Posted by Agatha Cheng

Laurence Green reviews Marianne Elliott’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Apollo Theatre.

Transposing a prize winning novel from page to stage can be a daunting prospect but Marianne Elliott’s  production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Apollo Theatre after transferring from the Cottesloe), adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best seller, succeeds superbly, achieving new life in the theatre while preserving its integrity.

Fifteen-year-old Christopher stands beside his neighbour Mrs Shear’s dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in the book he is writing, determined to solve the mystery of who murdered the animal.

Christopher, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at math while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, detests being touched and distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

This dazzlingly inventive production manages to get right inside the mind of its protagonist, providing his experience of life and family expressed through Bunny Christie’s ingenious design, in which infinite possibilities and multiply confusions are represented in squares and numbers, while Finn Ross’s inspired rides projections and Paula Constable’s light show offer shock and awe approach to delving into Christopher’s singular wonders and fears. There is even a toy train which puffs around the stage at one point.

In the remaining entirely true to the spirit of the novel, the production manages to skilfully blend narrative and actual scenes with Christopher’s kindly teacher at his special needs school reading the eloquently written book he is writing which evokes the strange algebra of his thought processes. Indeed this is a play which is funny, sad, original and intensely moving, and in one memorable scene in which Christopher jumps down onto the tube tracks to rescue his beloved pet rat, almost unbearingly suspenseful.

At the centre of this engrossing play is a tremendous performance by Luke Treadaway who expresses all the pained honest and twitchy awkwardness, as well, as the poignancy and courage of the teenage math genius. Strong support is provided by Sean Gleeson and Holly Aird as hi anguished parents and Niamh Cusack as his warm-hearted teacher.

This is a bittersweet story told with verve and passion and for me the best new play of the past 12 months.

Box office: 0844 412 4658

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