Writer: Simon Stephens
Director: Marianne Elliott
The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time is currently delighting audiences at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre before embarking on its next UK tour, and it is no mystery why this electric production continues to be a hit.
The piece is adapted by award-winning writer Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same name. The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time documents Christopher’s adventure into the wider world as he sets out to solve a neighbour’s dog’s murder and stumbles across a much bigger mystery along the way.
The piece transitions to the stage superbly and the way the National Theatre production orchestrates Christopher’s tale is a work of genius. A simple but innovative stage design creatively maps out Christopher’s thought processes, while moments of sensory overload are executed theatrically with suitably overwhelming technical effects. The physical theatre sequences, originally developed in collaboration with Frantic Assembly, continue to impress as they energetically convey Christopher’s journey. A particular marvel is seeing his walk through a train station transformed into an ambitious feat of daring and skill. The play is presented in a self-aware manner as if Christopher is presenting a play of his story and, appropriately, there isn’t a single detail of the productions set, props, costume, and technical design that hasn’t been carefully planned and meticulously executed.
This production marks the first time the role of Christopher is being played by a neurodivergent actor, an overdue milestone, and Connor Curren gives an unmissable performance. One conversation which sees Christopher faced with a shocking truth is particularly heart-breaking, as we see his frantic internalised attempts to process the new information, and he steals the scene without saying a word. Overall, however, Curren’s portrayal is a joyful experience as he brings a playful lightness to the role, delivering Christopher’s direct manner with comic matter-of-factness and wit.
Curren is challenged for the title of stand-out performance, however, by Sophie Stone’s incredibly moving portrayal of Christopher’s mother, Judy. Stone captures so much emotion in her powerful performance and her confession of the difficulty she had raising Christopher is delivered with raw honesty and an undiluted vulnerability. Rebecca Root also delivers a memorable performance as Christopher’s teacher Siobhan, who acts as a narrator of sorts as she recounts passages from his book. Root is an engaging storyteller throughout but it is the level of care she displays in her interactions with Christopher which is the highlight.
For all of its exceptional performances, The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time is very much an ensemble piece. The entire cast transition effortlessly to create the various characters in Christopher’s rapidly expanding world and their unified execution of the movement sequences is seamless. Intelligent direction by Marianne Elliot proves that a committed cast is much more valuable than an extensive set.
The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time continues to prove why it is one of the best modern plays in circulation. It combines the thrilling atmosphere of an ambitious spectacle with the beautiful intimacy of a family drama, resulting in a very memorable night at the theatre.
Runs until 9 January 2022