DramaReviewSouth East

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Orchard Theatre, Dartford

Reviewer: Dan English

Writer: Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon

Director: Marianne Elliott

For 15-year-old Christopher, life can be scary. If something is out of place, unusual or cannot immediately be explained, Christopher’s mind can quickly spiral. In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher grapples with the world around him as he ventures outside of his small town to explore hidden truths and mysteries about his family and himself.

This moving and breathtaking production carefully, and compassionately, explores the limitations, and frustrations, of Christopher’s extraordinary mind. The acclaimed production of Mark Haddon’s novel, touring the UK, gives insight into life for Christopher, sharing understanding of the frustrations he feels in a life where he hates being touched and he cannot communicate with strangers, and where journeys on a train can be absolutely terrifying.

David Breeds is superb in the challenging role of Christopher. The energy and depth Breeds brings to the role is a triumph, and we feel every whince, every fear and every shock Christopher feels. Breeds’ physicality is equally as impressive, coping well with the demanding physical choreography that the role requires. Breeds looks at home in this performance and is totally believable in creating such a vulnerable and anxious performance.

Stylised by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett from Frantic Assembly, the production utilises a dazzling array of physically demanding sequences which shed light on the rigidity and complexity of Christopher’s mind. Complementing Bunny Christie’s exceptional design, this choreography dynamically explores Christopher’s terror and confusion in a loud and volatile London tube station, while also enhancing the brutally tender moments as Christopher discovers a shocking letter in his father’s home.

Coupled with the physicality of the piece is Christie’s aforementioned design. The production takes place within a large square, built to resemble graph paper, a nod to Christopher’s mathematical brain, with cubby-holes dotted across the set to enable quick interactions with a range of props and moveable furniture. The set design is a clever depiction of the rigidity and uniformity of Christopher’s brain, enhanced by its duality where it appears to restrict Christopher, much like life does, in moments of uncertainty and terror, while in other moments its security offers a form of comfort to the protagonist. The set is also reliant on a number of projections, which enable the scenes to fly from one moment to another with ease which in turn supports the frantic and chaotic state Christopher finds himself in on occasion.

This is unlike any other production you will see. The attention to detail to immerse the audience not just into the world of the protagonist, but his mind, is spell-binding. Coupled with the beautiful design and outstanding physical sequences, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time educates more insight into lives such as Christopher’s than any other medium could possibly attempt. It’s tender, it’s funny, it packs a punch and the diversity of the cast and the complexity of the characters unite in this powerful piece of theatre. Few things are a ‘must-see’, but this is definitely one of them.

Runs until 14 May, then continues to tour

The Reviews Hub Score

A thought-provoking spectacle.

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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