Christopher is 15 years old, and someone killed his neighbour’s dog in the middle of the night. He is determined to find out who is to blame. However, Christopher’s life just isn’t that simple, and this play is an exploration of relationship, trust, personal growth and courage, told often through Christopher’s own words.
As one of the relatively few people who haven’t read Mark Haddon’s book of the same name, I have been wanting to watch The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for a long time and it is a powerful production that was definitely worth waiting for. Adapted by Simon Stephens and originally produced by the National Theatre in 2012, this exceptional play shines a light on neurodiversity in a way that I have never seen before.
The ingenious use of technology throughout the production provides an insight into Christopher’s emotions in response to the challenges he faces and gives the audience – gave me – the chance to experience first-hand just a fraction of what it might be like to live in Christopher’s shoes. David Breeds is outstanding in the role of Christopher, expending enormous amounts of energy as he carefully places every movement, word and gesture; nothing is without thought in his performance.
His relationship with his teacher Siobhan, represented beautifully by Rebecca Root, provides some calm in the sensory storm; contrasted often by the volatile nature of Christopher’s relationship with his parents, played at this performance by Tom Peters and Katie Kordel.
This play is funny, much funnier than you would expect given the subject matter, but the humour is carefully placed to provide a perfect balance with the moments of vulnerability, desperation and drama. It is my experience that there is a fine line in life between humour and heartbreak, and Stephens’ script captures that very well. The design team of Bunny Christie, Paule Constable, Finn Ross and Ian Dickinson, under the guidance of director Marianne Elliot, have brought this story to life in a way that will stick with me for a long time. In addition, the creative vision of movement directors Scott Graham and Steven Hogget enhances the natures of every one of Christopher’s interactions with others, whether in reality or fantasy.
I was unprepared for the emotional impact of this story, as well as the dramatic impression of the overall design. This production is definitely one to watch!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is playing at the Grand Theatre in Leeds until Saturday 16th April. More information and tickets can be found here: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The tour then continues around the UK and Ireland until the end of May https://leedsheritagetheatres.com/whats-on/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time-2/ Please note the age recommendation and the content warnings listed on the website.
Reviewer: Jo Tillotson
Reviewed: 12th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★