Returning to The West End following its previous triumphant runs, including a season on Broadway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has opened for a limited season at the Piccadilly Theatre. Hot on the heels of the success of Company, director Marianne Elliott shows that there’s still life in this particular production, based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel and adapted by Simon Stephens.
For anyone who saw a previous run, the production is only a fraction less than identical; the heart-warming story told in magnificent feats of physical theatre, with dynamic staging that is truly astounding. While I have seen previous versions, I was still beguiled by the performance and moved by its significance. At no point is the protagonist, Christopher described as being Autistic or having Asperger’s, and the audience is left to make their own mind up, instead we get to see a story about someone who is vulnerable, and experiencing the world in a new way.
Bunny Christie’s set design could very well be seen as the star attraction here, the whole set comprised of screens which help tell the story of young mathematician, Christopher John Francis Boone and the incident involving a dead dog which unlocks a whole new chapter in the life of this young man. Acting as a chalkboard, underground station, and a whole street of houses this flexible design looks fantastic, especially in the moments when it bursts with colour and light. Props appear from cubby holes built in to the screens allowing an entire world to unfold around Christopher to very dramatic effect.
Taking on the challenging lead role is Joshua Jenkins, his Christopher is beautifully nuanced and it is in those quieter moments, when the character is most exposed, that Jenkins really shows what he has to offer. The dialogue in itself is demanding, not to mention the physical aspects, but Jenkins seems to have found the perfect algorithm to deliver such a complex role.
Julie Hale plays Siobhan with incredible heart, a trait that finds symmetry with Stuart Laing’s Ed and Emma Beattie’s Judy, creating richness in the characters which surround Christopher. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a prime example of how to tell a moving story in a compelling and energetic way, and this new run looks set to bring this touching story to a whole new audience.