By Julie Wallis twitter.com/Nicenic63
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time is at Birmingham Hippodrome all this week. Based on the best selling book of the same name. The book itself has won 17 literary prizes and the play has won two BAFTAs.
The story, set in the present, centres around Christopher who is 15, has a form of autism and lives alone with his dad, believing his mother to be dead. His neighbours dog Wellington is found dead and Christopher turns amateur detective to solve the murder of his neighbours dog but along the way finds out so much more than he first anticipated.
I read the book many years ago and it was a very easy read but seeing it all play out on stage this production is in places quite harrowing. It still does have a feel good quality but it’s not what anyone would describe as a jolly little play.
Christopher is played by Scott Reid and he plays his part with an engaging and naive charm that perfectly matches how the character comes across in the books. Even though Christopher has Asperger syndrome he is not unintelligent, far from it and he loves to explain complex things like prime numbers, the Milky Way and Pythagoras theorem. All very well for a young man taking his maths A level at 15, maths helps Christopher cope with the mayhem of life and trying to understand people. So as I said, this is not a lighthearted play, but nonetheless it is very much worth seeing, and if you have read and loved the book, this production is just perfect. Staying absolutely true to the storyline of the book it is a delight from start to end.
The stage setting is stripped bare, with just a black backdrop and a black floor, but that does act as both a blackboard when Christopher is doing some working outs and it transforms into the sea, and streets and underground stations of London.
Beautiful choreography, not dancing though, just beautifully acted out scenes with Christopher being an astronaut and flying through space, or his mother in the sea this play has taken minimalism to a whole other level and I for one really appreciated just how clever the writing and acting is.
There are a few laughs, but for the most this is sad and touching and it really opened my eyes to the plight of life for people suffering from autism, just how different and difficult the world is for them.
Scott Reid is a wonderful actor and his dance training was easy to see, he flies around the stage in a frenzy at times but never misses a beat. The whole cast is wonderful, I particularly liked his friendly neighbour Mrs Alexander played by Debra Michaels, who plays the part of a caring but ever so slightly dotty old lady rather too well for someone so young. We’ve all had that neighbour, so I’m guessing she is based on someone real and known to Debra.
Mum Judy played by Emma Beattie, Dad Ed played by David Michaels and Christopher’s teacher Siobhan played by Lucianne McEvoy all have Christopher’s best interests at heart, and I felt his teacher Siobhan has more love and patience with Christopher than his own parents can manage. My heart was breaking when dad Ed shouts at a confused Christopher through sheer frustration and again when mum Judy realises just what Christopher has endured since her leaving.
There are times when my heart was in my mouth, like during the tube station scene, and I knew what was coming. If you haven’t read the book, order yourself a stiff drink for the interval, you’ll probably need it!
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time is beautifully and accurately recreated on stage and I’m so pleased that I got this opportunity to see it bought to life, but one small tip, if you do go to see it, don’t be too hasty at getting out of the theatre as Christopher returns after the curtain call to explain some maths.
See The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time until Saturday 8th August at Birmingham Hippodrome. Tickets here birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/curious-incident-dog-night-time/
This is not a sponsored post. Julie was invited on behalf of BrumHour to the Birmingham Hippodrome and this is her own opinion.