As the landmark production prepares to embark on its farewell tour, Jessica Newgas looks back on a wonderfully unique piece of theatre.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time was one of the first plays that opened my eyes to theatre and has left me wide-eyed and wanting more ever since. The exciting news is that this electric piece of storytelling will grace the stage of Leeds’ Grand Theatre, and if you love to be inspired and moved, or want to see something vibrant and true, then this is not one to let slip through your fingers.
‘The National Theatre has been lighting up stages with this spectacle since 2012, and it deserves the awards and sell-outs that it consistently receives.’
The National Theatre has been lighting up stages with this spectacle since 2012, and it deserves the awards and sell-outs that it consistently receives. Of course there is the core of the play, Mark Haddon’s book of the same name that has been seamlessly adapted by Simon Stephens. The story follows Christopher Boone, a boy whose Asperger syndrome makes the world an even more confusing place than it is for most. One of the play’s greatest achievements is its honest and totally believable representation of Christopher. Through listening to monologues where he explains the workings of his extraordinary brain and watching intently as he engages with the world around him, we are able to begin to understand Christopher. Despite seeing things differently, Christopher is not presented like a maths problem that’s impossible to solve, but as a young person just trying to make sense of things and find his way, something we can all relate to.
Through the medium of theatre, the world through Christopher’s eyes is brought to life; and what a view it is. The technical range of theatre is flaunted; we are plunged straight into the centre of Christopher’s life as he leads us, not only on a journey through his own wonderings, but also on another journey that he never expected. With each scene more visually spectacular than the next, director Marianne Elliott builds a world that appears just as overwhelming to us as it is to Christopher. A demonstration of what theatre can achieve when light, sound and mechanical contortions of the stage work together, A Curious Incident is a thrilling sensory experience.
‘With each scene more visually spectacular than the next, director Marianne Elliott builds a world that appears just as overwhelming to us as it is to Christopher’
But it is not just the technical brilliance of this show or the absorbing storytelling that sets this play out from the crowd; it is the subject matter that is so expertly tackles. Theatre forces us to look at what is put in front of us and to engage. Haddon hands us a tool to allow us to see into the life and mind of somebody like Christopher and Elliott sits us down in the dark and shows us a character and a life that will leave us enthralled by a journey that most people complete everyday. This is the beauty of theatre, the empathy it has the potential to provoke and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a visual masterpiece and an insightful presentation of what it’s like to move through our fast-paced world for someone like Christopher. But, most importantly, Christopher is not pitied but applauded. He is not lacking, but brilliant.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will be showing at Leeds Grand Theatre from 28th February to 4th March.
(Image: Brinkhoff Moegenburg)