The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time Live is a brand new National Theatre Production by Simon Stephens, based on a best-selling novel by Mark Haddon. Even if you haven’t read the book, it’s no spoiler that the story starts when a dog has been killed with a garden fork & left as it lay. 15-year-old Christopher Boone, Played by Scott Reid discovers the dog – belonging to a neighbour & becomes adamant that he will find the killer.
Opening Night at The Lowry in Salford did not disappoint.
Christopher Boone has Asperger’s syndrome or as he refers to himself ‘someone who has behavioural problems. As an actor, these are very big boots to fill, as although there are visible characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome, for many of us it can be difficult to understand how it actually feels. The use of tech throughout this piece was remarkable. Although many of us will never be able to relate fully to the way that Christopher feels, the use of lighting and sound throughout allowed the audience to get some insight into how distressing things can be for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Just as the book reads, the whole production is from Christopher’s point of view. Because of this, there isn’t a moment where he is not on stage. The production lasted around 2 hours, not including the interval, throughout that time Scott Reid did not fall out of character for a single moment. During his performance, Reid became Christopher Boone; from the way he spoke even to the way he moves and held himself.
In saying this, each and every member of the cast did the same thing. The production included a small cast, with no more than 10 cast members (11 when including Toby the rat, who was in fact in the program on the cast list). Although many were members of the chorus, each and every character within the play was significant & unique – which is even more impressive. In small snippets, each member of the chorus was playing at least 3 characters, each one different to the next.
It really was all in the acting & direction in this production. A single set & very few props were used throughout the whole show. The use of tech & the focus of the cast was what truly set the scene. Even when playing as background extras, the cast showed clear characterisation, which was a big part of what made this production so magical.
To show character development, many productions include a character who works as the voice of conscience for the lead role. However, Christopher Boone’s trait of ‘not being able to tell lies’ meant we always knew his true thoughts and feelings.
Although it ran with an intense storyline, the writing did include some comic relief (and strong language) which was put across perfectly through characterisation & thorough direction.
I hope that the success of the first touring year of this production encourages the National Theatre to continue to bless us with this production – as I would watch it again and again.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will be on show at The Lowry, Salford until 4th Feb 2017, after which it will continue to tour the UK. For ticket info, click here.