Based on the novel by Mark Haddon, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’, The Lowry showcases the theatrical adaptation filled to the brim with undulating drama, heart-wrenching emotion and wry humour.
Christopher Boon, the 15-year-old boy whose performance dominates the stage, has Asperger’s syndrome. Through the evocative stage setup and structure of the play, ‘The Curious Incident’ demonstrates his intricate and changing mind scape and offers an extensive insight into his thoughtful and inquisitive character.
In a cubic and grid-like scene, the backdrop to the drama that ensues on stage is reflective of Christopher’s intensive, and often chaotic, thought processes. Whether he recounts mathematical equations, heroic histories of space travel or a methodical method of mapping his surroundings, the interactive backdrop is awry with bursting lights that help paint the scene within his mind.
Sudden and repeated flashes of light, overpoweringly loud techno music and seemingly incoherent choreography signal the start of the show. In the middle of the stage lies Wellington, a dog stabbed to death with a garden pitchfork. As a result of this, the audience are left as dazed and as puzzled as Christopher is, and thus, the desire to uncover the truth begins.
In narrating the book that he writes to help him uncover the mystery Wellington’s murder, his therapist, Siobhan, successfully brings to life joyful and heart warming provocations that comprise Haddon’s 2003 novel.
His diary entries are brought to life mid scene, creating an inconsistent time frame and untraditionally abstract structure of the play but perfectly elucidating the practical and thoughtful processes involved in solving the murder mystery.
Much to the dismay of his father, Christopher’s plight and defiance leads him to unravel a series of explosive secrets that change will change the course of both their lives.
At times, the relationship between father and son becomes uncomfortable to watch; a physical fight leaves the audience silent for several minutes. However, through the unveiling of the past unbeknown to both Christopher and audience, the demonised image of his dad begins to shed. As a result of this emotional rollercoaster, it’s a poignant emotional journey for all involved.
Simon Stephen’s adaptation demonstrates the heart-warming humour that shines through, and encapsulates the very essence of the esteemed novel.
At first the humour generated seemed out of place and at times inappropriate, due to its production at the misunderstandings of an Aspergic teenager desperately trying to make sense of his world. However, the humour involved within this play demonstrates Christopher’s good nature and kind heart, and through the thorough portrayal of his hardships, the play sensitively explores his character, rather than making fun of it.
One criticism would have to be the self-conscious awareness of the play’s very format. Being told that his writing would soon be turned into a play and then the subsequent nod to the audience, for me, ruined what would have been an almost perfect show by destroying that boundary between stage and audience.
In spite of this, the play is a must see for any member of the family, children, parents, single adults, seniors alike. ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ is guaranteed to pull on the toughest of heartstrings and resonate with any viewer.
TNT Arts & Culture Alexia Hendrickson