One of the most successful plays of the last couple of years, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time takes to the road again this month in a new national tour. Opening at Salford’s The Lowry before travelling the country, Scott Reid is steadying himself for the tour. He spoke to The Reviews Hub’s Donna Kelly as he prepares for opening night.
After wowing audiences with his portrayal of Methadone Mick in BBC One’s Still Game, Scottish actor Scott Reid now takes to the stage as Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The 23-year old actor, best known for his roles in Still Game (2002-2016), Sketchland (2015) and What’s Funny About the Indyref? (2014), is taking on the lead role in the award-winning drama based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon.
Yet, while the role of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with suspected autism spectrum condition, feels a world away from his previous role as the legendary loquacious Mick, the Glasgow-born actor is relishing the challenge of taking on the Oliver award-winning role.
“Every actor wants to play a part where you are on stage the whole time, where you are connected and are involved in every bit of drama” comments Reid.
The play comes with an illustrious history. Does the challenge scare Reid? “For me as an actor, you’ve got to do things that terrify you. If something is exciting, difficult and challenging, I feel like I have to raise my game so I give every single ounce of energy.”
“It’s hard but I have a massive smile on my face. It’s like I get to climb Mount Everest and if you get to the top of Everest, I’m sure there is a really, really exquisite view,” he explains. “That’s what it feels like at the end of this play. The payoff is just huge. I feel so blessed and lucky that I get to do this, I honestly believe I’ve got the best job in the world.”
Based on the 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells the story of Christopher Boone, a teenager with an extraordinary brain but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life, who falls under suspicion when his neighbour’s dog is found dead. Determined to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington, Christopher embarks on a journey that upturns his world and questions his relationship with those closest to him.
The book was adapted for stage by Simon Stephens in 2012 for the National Theatre and has won seven Olivier Awards in 2013 and five Tony awards in 2015 including Best Play.
“The beautiful thing about Curious Incident is that this part [Christopher] over the space of five to six years has become a modern classic,” Reid shares.
Does that classic status daunt an actor, though? “Literally, the amount of text in the script that you have to retain, in terms of water retention, it feels like I’m carrying the Atlantic ocean,” he laughs.
I really believe it’s like playing one of the great Shakespeare parts.
The nature of the play and its subject matter, though, means for Reid there is more than the text to conquer. “There are the words but also the physical aspect of the show is really, really demanding. I really believe it’s like playing one of the great Shakespeare parts. The language is a bit different but the ‘epicness’ and the magnitude of playing the part of Christopher is huge. It’s two and a half hours of your life every night on stage in front of thousands of people. It’s something of the past but is very, very forward thinking.”
So has Reid had to take on specific physical training to prepare for his role in this unique production? “It’s highly physical and highly stylised in terms of the movements. I’ve really had to equip myself with the necessary tools to do the job night after night, strengthening my core and my arms. The stamina required is something I’ve had to build up,” he confesses.
The role of Christopher has been played by many talented young actors over the past few years including Graham Butler, Joshua Jenkins and Luke Treadaway, who won an Olivier Award for Best Leading Actor in the 2013 production. Reid is keen, however, to bring his own interpretation of Christopher to the stage and make the part his own, rather than imitate those who’ve gone before him.
“There are so many different ways to get there. Even if I tried to emulate and copy what was done the very first time, it would be impossible. You’d have to remember thousands and thousands of little shifts and corners and there’s no way it can be the same. That’s a really exciting part to play,” Reid says. There’s a shared journey in the company, though, he reveals. “What’s really great is that everybody in this company is fresh. Everybody is doing this show for the first time so we kind of almost forget that it has been on and been so successful.”
Successful it certainly has been. Since its premiere in 2012, the smash-hit production continues to play to sold-out houses in London’s West End and on Broadway. Following a successful UK tour in 2015, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time now embarks on its second tour.
“There is something really beautiful in watching somebody try to go through their life telling the truth all the time,” comments Reid. “You see somebody that just got an honest, open heart and people can’t help but fall in love with him. He’s not selfish at all, although sometimes it comes across that he’s selfish because of certain rules he’s got, but he’s actually such an open minded, giving young man who, especially to audiences, he shares his heart. When I go to the theatre, I want to feel like someone is giving their soul to me and hopefully, that’s what I’m doing.”
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opens at Salford’s The Lowry on 21 January and is on tour in the UK until September 2017.
Image: Alex Rumford