Tuesday, November 29

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Opera House

Tenacious teen Christopher Boone is back sleuthing around the UK once again in this adaptation of ‘the nation’s favourite’, best-selling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

With guidance from his uniquely understanding teacher Siobhan (Rebecca Root) and accompanied by Toby, his pet rat, our fifteen-year-old protagonist (David Breeds) sets out to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog, Wellington. This proves difficult for an outsider like Christopher, who faces obstacles in the form of strangers, metaphors, the yellow bits of Battenberg cake and secrets that threaten to throw his investigation into disarray.

The Curious Incident offers a unique perspective on life that regularly shifts from encouraging laughs to moments of deep reflection. While Christopher’s oft-unconventional behaviour is played for comic effect, it is done so in a respectful manner, showing how people perceive things differently. This often comes from interactions with the ensemble characters: his “doing detecting” results in some funny misunderstandings between him and Mrs Alexander (Joanne Henry), the neighbour across the street. The expletive-heavy dialogue throughout the script, however, sometimes detracts from a scene for the sake of a cheap laugh.

Breeds leads the appreciably diverse cast, offering an earnest portrayal of the complex character that Christopher is. He never fails to keep up with Christopher’s rapidly changing emotions, precisely adjusting the tone in his voice and body language as events cause him to jump from being calm to volatile and back again. Breeds gives Christopher an endearingly skittish demeanour that makes the audience root for him from the start. He embodies the boy who counts up in prime numbers as a coping mechanism and allows his space-themed thoughts to wander from the alignment of stars in the Milky Way to taking pets into orbit.

Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Throughout the whole performance, Root is totally invested in the role of Siobhan: she radiates a calming and professional presence as she narrates Christopher’s journey and steps in to offer him advice. Her excitement in moments of joy is infectious. Root also confidently contributes to the humour with an occasional dry tone and tongue-in-cheek breakings of the fourth wall.

Paule Constable, Finn Ross and Ian Dickinson are a mighty power of three providing lighting, video and sound design respectively to electrify the story. Erratic strobes and booming noise represents Christopher’s mind in states of agitation, throwing together the sights and sounds of somewhere new to show how it sends him into information overload. Visuals at the back of the stage depict his train of thought as he calculates sums, works out directions and quantifies his feelings.

This creative staging is complimented by the use of human props and smooth, well-executed choreography: there’s a particularly calming space scene in which Christopher imagines being an astronaut as he is gracefully floated across the stage.

From page to stage, The Curious Incident remains a magical odyssey into the mind of a brilliantly different, brilliantly brave boy.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues at Opera House, Manchester until 12th March with tickets available from https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time/opera-house-manchester/

Reviewer: Scot Cunningham

Reviewed: 8th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★