- Sam Schreiber
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime Review - MayflowerTheatre Southampton
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
“This is good Christopher. It’s very exciting. I like the details. They make it more realistic.” – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time proves to still be a heart-warming, raw and relevant production.
Adapted from Mark Haddon’s award winning novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time follows the story of a neurodiverse fifteen-year-old, named Christopher Boone. After discovering his neighbour’s murdered dog, he sets out to solve the mystery and find the culprit, discovering along the way that the things he knows and loves might not be exactly as they seem.
I am a firm believer that an audience has the power to ‘make or break’ a show. A buzzing audience of excited theatregoers has a sense of camaraderie like no other I’ve seen, taking their seats together for two-and-a-half hours of shared theatrical bliss. They cheer at the right moments, know when to be dead silent and above all else, know how to be both respectful.
The audience, at the performance I attended, didn’t.
Curious Incident is a wonderful, wonderful play and as a result, it’s a mainstay of Drama courses up and down the country. The issue with this is that some students don’t know how to be respectful in a theatre. To not talk during the show. To not crinkle packets and water bottles. To not blatantly hiccup during a tensely silent scene.
Whist I hate to start a review on such a poor note, I simply wish that students had some kind of education as to how to behave in a theatre. How can you be expected to appreciate an art form without the proper knowledge of how? Without sounding entirely patronising, there’s a common-sense way of being respectful and getting the most out of going to the theatre. For students who need to understand a play, even for the sake of doing well in their studies, it would surely be a good idea to remind them of audience expectations. Plenty of them are studying Drama and Theatre Studies, after all.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is one of the most beautifully crafted shows I have seen. Bunny Christie’s scenic design is nothing short of stunning, allowing for fast paced movement between locations – especially in the sequence of Christopher navigating a chaotically traumatic train network. Coupled with Paul Constable’s spectacular lighting design, the minimalist, geometric and LED lined set is calculated and intricate, giving the audience a thoroughly intriguing insight into how the protagonist thinks, often sensorially exhausted by an overwhelming world. To name some highlights, their divisions of the stage are particularly wonderful, as Christopher moves from house-to-house, interrogating his neighbours about the murder of Mrs Shears’ dog. Equally, a scene involving a train and a pet rat is perhaps one of the most stunning moments of the show.
The show’s director, Marianne Elliott (War Horse, Angels in America, Company), is nothing short of genius in her vision for the show. Coupled with the stunning movements of Frantic Assembly, theatrical gold is created in the immense beauty of the staging. I challenge anyone to not be awed by such fluid and beautifully dramatized scenes as Christopher soaring through space or getting caught up in the hustle of Paddington Station. Elliott’s ‘Best Director’ Olivier and Tony Award are undoubtably well deserved.
In terms of casting, the production is one of the most amazingly diverse I have ever seen. To see the show’s leading female roles played by a transgender actress (Rebecca Root as Siobhan) and a deaf actress (Sophie Stone as Judy) was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Root is a superb narrator for the story, standing as a figure of calm and reassurance in Christopher’s frantic world. There is raw excellence in her performance.
Stone, who signs as well as speaks her lines, adds a new dimension of her character’s communicative and maternal struggle. Her performance is incredibly moving and, when coupled with Tom Peters’ portrayal of Ed, presents a striking view of the struggles of parenthood, especially to a child with ‘different’ needs.
David Breeds is a wonderful Christopher Boone. His mesmerizingly raw and sensitive portrayal of the character, trembling with nerves and darting from calm into anxious frenzy, is nothing short of remarkable.
It goes without saying that the entire Curious Incident ensemble is utterly astounding and, without whom, the show’s captivating atmosphere would not be possible. Their slick, comical, intimidating and exciting portrayals of some widely contrasting roles is highly commendable and a testament to the power of a united company.
To conclude, the current UK Tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time should not be missed, if you find yourself in a position to see it.
The titular incident is indeed Curious, but what is perhaps more so is the way this show has been crafted and performed. It is beautiful.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is currently on a UK Tour.
Tickets are available at www.curiousonstage.com/tour
The reviewer saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on 26th January 2022.
Top tip: Don’t stand up after the bows. Ignore the house lights. Ignore the empty stage. You’ll find out why.
Images found via Google, not my own