Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Curious Incident

Cerys Thomas reviews the highly anticipated National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

After a thorough advertising campaign on the streets of Canterbury, the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time finally landed at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre. It appeared to have paid off as people filed in droves through the theatre doors, each one clasping programmes and wearing smiles of hopeful anticipation, loudly voicing their excitement to see the play that took London’s West-End by storm. And after eavesdropping on several conversations at the play’s conclusion, I can confidently assert that no-one left the theatre disappointed in their expectations.

Based on Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel of the same name, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows Christopher Boone (played by the fantastic Joshua Jenkins), an inquisitive teenager with Asperger’s syndrome, emulating his idol Sherlock Holmes in uncovering the curious circumstances behind the death of his neighbour’s dog Wellington. Christopher’s determination to find Wellington’s killer forces him to interact with a world which he attempts to shut-out due to its indefinable unpredictability. Christopher’s investigation however is complicated by the contents of a dusty old shirt box secreted in the back of his father’s wardrobe which, when opened, launches Christopher’s life into the uncomfortable realms of the uncertain.

Photo: National Theatre

Jenkins is accompanied in his performance by an ensemble cast of 13 actors (excluding the captivating performance of Starsky/Hutch as Toby the Rat) who all interact with one another in a variety of inventive ways in order to emulate the intricacies of Christopher’s mind, alongside the frightening elements of his external environment. The cast’s utilisation of stage and space is awe-inspiring and successfully gives the audience an imaginative insight into the unique mind of Christopher who lives in a solitary bubble, outside society, saturated by his love of mathematical equations, space and prime numbers. The beauty of the play however fundamentally lies within Christopher’s interaction with his father Ed (Stuart Laing) and mother Judy (Gina Isaac). With heavy hearts the audience witnesses the struggle of Christopher’s parents who crave a parental intimacy with a child who is unable to return their affections. The only form of intimacy Christopher can accept is the gentle pressing of his hand against his parent’s- an action that, for Christopher, translates parental intimacy into the shape of a perfect triangle.

Overall, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a humorous play tackling the multifaceted aspects of living with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. We, as audience members, are offered the emblematic hand of Christopher, and are guided by him and the fellow cast members into a world as equally beautiful as it is complicated. I therefore urge everyone to go and see this fantastic play- you won’t regret it, not even for one moment.

P.S. Do stay for the maths question at the conclusion of the play; it’ll be well worth your time.

P.P.S. People in the front four rows may need to wear waterproof clothing as Stuart Laing evidently took acting tips from Gary Oldman.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is showing at the Marlowe Theatre until the 23rd May 2015. For show times and more information, click here.


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