Monday, 10 November 2014

Theatre Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

(Image: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg from the National Theatre website)

Last week I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre in London. Having read the book when there was a craze for it in Year 6 and it remaining one of my favourites to this day, I was so excited when Simon Stephens first adapted it for the stage. (As an aside: Simon Stephens seems to be everywhere at the moment! What isn't he currently doing in the West End?) I saw the National Theatre Live version at a local cinema when the show first opened and absolutely loved it, but of course it really doesn't compare to seeing the production live. 

I would go as far as to say that it is one of my favourite theatre productions that I've seen, and I see a lot of theatre so few make that cut. (Don't ask me about my favourite musical, I will never be able to narrow it down.) 

I think the staging for this show is absolutely fantastic; motifs of physical theatre are used throughout and it's so effective in the parts where there is no dialogue. I especially loved the parts when it acted as a window into protagonist Christopher's thoughts, giving them an almost fantastical element. My friend who I went to see it with informed me that the physical theatre in the show was created with the help of theatre company Frantic Assembly who are known for crafting contemporary pieces of physical theatre, and it makes sense when you know their work as it's really what they're all about. As you can see from the above picture, the set was amazing too and so appropriate for the show. They frequently made use of lights, grids and boxes to give the audience a glimpse into Christopher's mind. 

Speaking of Christopher, I liked his performance but somehow couldn't shake the performance of Luke Treadaway who originated the role of Christopher from my mind. He was so fantastic in the NT Live production I first saw that I feel like no one else could do that role as well, for me. In fairness, Luke Treadaway did win an Olivier for his performance in Curious Incident so he would be a pretty tough act to follow! Christopher, although sometimes difficult and awkward, is such a touching character and I think it's so important that we as an audience warm to him, and in both performances I've seen now I definitely did. I also thought that Nicolas Tennant who played Christopher's dad was brilliant; the way in which he struggled to react towards his sometimes difficult son was so subtle but so on point. If you have read the book then you will know how it touches on the difficulties of life but also celebrates it, and I think the stage production made a valiant effort at capturing that.

I absolutely cannot recommend this enough. I think it's a genuinely brilliant production and deserves every bit of success it's had. Get yourself to the Gieldgud Theatre and see this ASAP.

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