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

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

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Joshua Jenkins (Christopher) in The Curious Incident of the the Dog in the Night-Time, photo by BrinkhoffMögenberg (3)
A superb piece of theatre that offers the full package – a captivating story, fine acting and 21st century staging

Anyone who has read Mark Haddon's novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, will understand my confusion and perhaps apprehension at seeing it turned into a big West End show (and subsequent tour). The book follows the life of young Christopher Boone (15 years and three months old to be precise) as he explores the world around him, comes to terms with some awful truths and overcomes things that his Asperger's syndrome has made extremely difficult for him. But I needn’t have worried. 

The show was masterful – funny, heart-warming, piercingly sad and equally as captivating as the novel. It does all it can to win your affections, bombarding you with moving scenes, tear-jerking moments and such a powerful story of one young man's journey that when Christopher turns to the audience at the end of the show after his various accomplishments and asks, 'Does that mean I can do anything now?', the audience around me roared, 'Yes!' By the time the lights went out and the confetti fell (you'll have to discover that particular treat for yourselves), I felt like I'd been picked up, shaken out and plonked back down in Sunderland with a big grin on my face. 

So what was so good about it? There are any number of things that make a good theatre production: the acting, the set, lighting or superb technology. This show delivered on every level. 

The star of the show was Joshua Jenkins in the role of Christopher Boone. Not only did he manage to capture Christopher's frame of mind and his mannerisms perfectly, but he played a 15-year-old boy with complete conviction – either of which was no mean feat. He was surrounded by a superb supporting cast who managed to move effortlessly between a variety of different roles with skill and finesse. 

But what particularly stood out about this production was the set. Joshua and his fellow cast members were encased within a box on the stage that was decorated with a uniform (and rather psychedelic) black and white grid. With the use of some clever lighting and digital effects, this box became a variety of settings from Christopher’s neighbourhood to the London Underground. A liminal space, it became both the exterior world where the action takes place (also cleverly concealing props) and also Christopher’s inner consciousness from where the story emerges. Until I saw this production I didn’t realise that a set could so powerfully portray human emotions – from happiness to fear to extreme sadness, all with the click of a button.

There's not much else for me to say, but the next thing I see at the theatre will have a lot to live up to.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
11th–15th August
Sunderland Empire
0844 871 3022
www.atgtickets.com

Published in: August 2015

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