The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Bord Gais Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Written by Simon Stephens – Based on the Best Selling book by Mark Haddon
Winner of Seven Olivier Awards in 2013 including Best New Play.
Until April 29th
Christopher Boone (Scott Reid) sees the world around him as it is. However as Scott Reid so pertinently remarked in a newspaper interview, Christopher is ”wired differently”. He is mystified by the use of metaphors which to him obscure the truth rather than reveal it. Truth is something that concerns him. In particular, he needs to know what happened to Mrs. Shears’ dog, Wellington, in the middle of the night. His quest has consequences. It awakens part of his past and reveals untruths which he had previously accepted as the truth.
He is a boy who has needed special schooling. He has escaped into the world of his magnificent model railway and the truths of mathematics. When faced with bureaucracy, his bewilderment quickly turns to violence. He is an intelligent misfit in a society he finds incomprehensible.
The action takes place in Swindon and Willesden, two unglamorous parts of England. The set is a large rectangular black box delineated with a white translucent frame. On arrival in the theatre the stage is bare apart from a prostrate, moribund dog with a large fork driven through it. It is an unsettling image. The set revealed in the performance a myriad of imperceptible hatch doors from which small props emerged almost like magic. Even more impressive were the succession of images projected on the walls and even the floor of the stage. These were stage effects of a very high order. It was all seamless and breath-taking.
Apart from Scott Reid as Christopher the other members of the cast played more than one role. They moved with balletic like precision and their body language was as expressive as the language that they spoke. According to the same newspaper interview with Scott Reid they all do yoga and circuit training every day and it was apparent. There was an admirable sequence of coming through a hall door when wet clothing was removed which, although probably less than 30 seconds in duration, would be worth going a second time simply to admire. It was glorious. That said, it is Scott Reid’s performance which is central to the piece. He was on stage for almost the entire performance. Christopher is an extraordinarily demanding physical role, never mind his mental angularity. Yet he is also an empathetic being. Christopher may well be “wired differently” but Scott Reid ensured that the audience was on Christopher’s side at all times in the maze of daily challenges he faced. It was a triumphant performance.
In the second half, particularly the chaos of the tube ride from Paddington to Willesden Junction, was not quite as spell binding as the first half. However that said, what must be remembered is that the overall production is a fine example of what striving for excellence does achieve in the theatre. The audience was transported magnificently to a different world. The show is to be seen.