Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Aaron Lapkin loved Simon Stephens stage adaptation of Mark Haddon’s extraordinary childhood classic
Mark Haddon’s critically acclaimed character, Christopher Boone, cannot accurately convey his emotions and thoughts. The math and science genius excels in the classroom as he studies for his A-level exams, yet his behavioral disorder causes him to shut himself out of people’s lives.
Yes, Simon Stephens undertook a tough challenge to convey the mind of Christopher Boone to the audience, but he does a remarkable job bringing to life the mind of a boy with Asperger’s syndrome as he questions the moral integrity of limiting one’s possibilities.
The underlying challenge for Stephens concerned bringing Christopher’s thoughts onto the stage. In the book, Christopher writes about his day’s activities in a journal as he roams throughout the neighborhood while looking for the murderer of his neighbor’s dog. In order translate this for an audience, Stephens’s adaptation designates Christopher’s counselor, Siobhan, to read aloud his diary entries, and decides to stage it as a play.
As audiences appreciate the boy’s passion to catch the murderer, Academy Award nominees Bunny Christie and Finn Ross’s stage design takes us into the mind of our curious detective. As Christopher finds himself lost in the underground, he tucks his head, plugs his ears, and counts multiples of two, at which point the stage lights slowly dim while a series of maps, stations, and numbers flash on the stage, all while the walls slowly close in. Christie and Ross’s witty staging also won them an Olivier.
The gifted cast brings to light the hardships of raising a son with autism. After Christopher soils his garments due to stress, the audience becomes uncomfortably silent as they watch Christopher’s father, actor Trevor Fox, slowly undress his son.
Mark Noble brilliantly captures the character’s ambition without downplaying his intelligence, making his performance and the adaptation in itself a masterpiece.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue until October 2014. Tickets £25-57.50 with a limited number of £15 tickets available from the box office. See www.curiousonstage.com