Writer: Mark Haddon
Adaptor: Simon Stephens
Director: Marianne Elliot
Reviewer: John Roberts
Having just finished its run in the West End, Marianne Elliot’s highly acclaimed production of Mark Haddon’s best-selling book continues on its second UK Tour, as it stops over for a week long run in Liverpool, the production shows no sign of losing any of its originality and emotional power.
Simon Stephens adapts Haddon’s book with a clever play-within-a-play structure that helps move the narrative drive of the production along with real pace, it also ensures that dialogue is sharp and precise and the plot is structured and tight. Team Stephens’ writing with Marianne Elliot’s considered and clever direction you can’t help but be wrapped up in Christopher Boone’s world. A world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, a place where the familiar becomes alien and the smallest of noises can become the worst of distractions – this is beautifully realised within Bunny Christie’s clever set design, Paule Constable’s atmospheric lighting design and Finn Ross’ exemplary video design.
While the production elements are all strong and knit together extremely well, the success of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time relies on a strong and engaging central lead and actor Scott Reid brings so much depth and nuance to the role of Autistic teenager Christopher Boone. He delivers a considered vocal rhythm and physicality which really strikes a chord. He is suitably supported by Lucianne McEvoy as Sam’s caring teacher Siobhan, David Michael’s as Ed, Christopher’s struggling father in an engaging performance and Emma Beattie as Christopher’s estranged mother Judy.
However, the production, especially in the Empire Theatre would benefit considerably with more amplification in voice, at times dialogue becoming hard to hear and at some points inaudible, a small fault but one that does pull you out of the moment whenever it occurs. One of the production’s delights and elements that stand strongest is the use of physical theatre, showing moments of confusion, moments of aspiration and moments of escape, this really helps illustrate the thoughts of Christopher – Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett do not hold back. Adrian Sutton also coats the production with a deliciously divine soundtrack which gives an ethereal element to the show.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is everything a piece of drama should be, engaging, creative, thoughtful, truthful, raw and tight – this is theatre at its strongest and arguably one of the National Theatre’s best ever productions by one of the companies most talented directors.
Runs until 30 July 2017 | Image: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg