Vivienne Kennedy reviews The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, playing at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 17 June 2017
Simon Stephens’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel is quite simply one of the best plays I’ve ever watched, and I’ve watched a fair few.
It tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old with Asperger Syndrome. He attends a school for pupils with special needs because his poor social understanding causes him confusion and that leads to major behavioural problems – things not going to plan, people not being entirely clear when they say something, crowds, loud noises; these are his triggers. He likes logic, maths is his safe place and prime numbers part of his coping mechanism. When he’s determined (and, oh boy, he really is) he can do anything, and that includes solving crimes!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time puts the audience inside a character’s head like no other play I’ve seen. For those of us with no personal knowledge of Asperger Syndrome it provides quite an education with a number of laughs, a few tears, and one great big “aw” moment along the way.
Scott Reid is perfect as Christopher, totally believable.
He’s the only member of the ensemble playing just one part, the other 14 slip seamlessly from character to character. It could get confusing, but, thanks to Marianne Elliott’s excellent direction, it never does.
I particularly admired David Michaels’s and Emma Beattie’s portrayals of Christopher’s parents – how hard must it be not to be able to hug your child at times when most children would be comforted by that, to only be able to hold up your hand and hope their fingers will connect with yours? They demonstrated that Asperger Syndrome is never just about one person, it’s about everyone they meet and how a little understanding can help so much.
Kudos too, to designer Bunny Christie, lighting designer Paule Constable, video designer Finn Ross, movement directors Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, composer Adrian Sutton, and sound designer Ian Dickinson. Their work makes the show spectacular in every way.
I won’t give any more away but to summarise, it’s blinkin’ good.
For further information, and to book online, visit atgtickets.com
Top Tip: treat yourself to a programme, it’s full of interesting stuff.
Image: Scott Reid (Christopher Boone) & ensemble, NT Curious Incident Tour 2017. Photo by BrinkhoffM+Âgenburg