Theatre Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Apollo Theatre, London ✭✭✭✭✭

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
NIAMH CUSACK as Siobhan &
LUKE TREADAWAY as Christopher Boone
Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg
Apollo Theatre, London

Review by Emma Curry

Having loved Mark Haddon’s original book, and being a huge fan of pretty much all of Simon Stephens’s work, I couldn’t have been more excited about attending the stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The production has just transferred to the West End after a run last summer at the National Theatre, with slight changes to the original cast and the set (it was previously performed in the round). The story is about 15-year-old Christopher, a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome who enjoys solving problems and has a gift for Maths, despite his everyday struggles with social interaction. Upon discovering a dead dog in the front garden of a neighbour’s house, he goes on a quest to solve the mystery, uncovering family secrets along the way.

The original book is narrated entirely by Christopher, so I was unsure as to how the story would work on the stage, but Stephens’s solution is brilliantly creative. Christopher’s teacher Siobhan (Niamh Cusack) reads Christopher’s story and decides to turn it into a school play, with Christopher playing himself, a structure which leads to some brilliant and hilarious breaking-the-fourth-wall moments, as Christopher briefly steps out of the action to point out the actors’ errors or deficiencies in reproducing his story. It also allows the narration to shift between various characters as Siobhan, Christopher, Christopher’s father Ed (Seán Gleeson) and his mother Judy (Holly Aird) all read aloud portions of the book as the story progresses.

LUKE TREADAWAY as Christopher Boone 
surrounded by members of the company
Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg
The set and staging are visually stunning, and key to negotiating the complexities and emotional nuances of Christopher’s life. The stage is set up as a box with gridlines marked across each surface and hidden compartments providing the props, reflecting Christopher’s need for neatness and mathematical order, whilst creative lighting and a computerised backdrop provide the setting for scene changes. These elements all make for some visually spectacular moments, such as when Christopher imagines himself as an astronaut (a starry background with Christopher and Toby (his pet rat) lifted up by the other actors to depict floating in space), or when he attempts to negotiate the hustle-and-bustle of a train station (a constant stream of shouting signposts, whilst Christopher is buffeted back and forth, even walking on the wall at one point). There is also a particularly great moment when Christopher slips down onto the tube tracks at Paddington station to retrieve Toby from an approaching train (a mixture of roaring sound and lights), which I found completely gripping (and terrifying!).

The supporting actors all make the absolute most of their parts: Sophie Duval is particularly hilarious in a variety of roles, including as the voice of a rather provocative cash-point, and the super-enunciative headmistress; whilst Nimah Cusack brings a gentleness and kindness to Siobhan that helps to develop Christopher’s relationship with her. The standout star of this production, however, is Luke Treadaway. He is absolutely astonishing in the emotionally (and physically) demanding role of Christopher; a performance that is at turns energetic, impassioned, humorous, and utterly heart-breaking. He commands the whole theatre’s attention at every moment of the tale (even in the post-curtain-call moment when he explains how he answered the final question of his Maths A-Level!) and deserves to win any and every award he is nominated for in this role.

All in all, I can’t recommend this production enough. It’s a truly amazing evening of theatre that will leave you laughing, crying and utterly moved. An absolute must-see!

Five stars ✭✭✭✭✭

Listings Info
Apollo Theatre
31 Shaftesbury Avenue
London, W1D 7EZ

Until Aug 31st

Book tickets HERE