The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time review - December 2018

"A wonderful play with a real depth and richness."

Simon Stephens’ play based on Mark Haddon’s book of the same name, directed by Marianne Elliot, has returned to the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre. At the centre of it is Christopher Boone, a brilliantly intelligent 15-year-old who has a condition on the autistic spectrum, who discovers a neighbour’s dog has been killed and sets out to discover the culprit, recording his investigation in a diary. This serves as the driving force for the plot, being narrated to the audience in large part by his teacher, Siobhan.

Joshua Jenkins puts in a great performance as the teenage protagonist while being ably supported by the rest of the cast. Simon Stephens provides a masterful adaptation of the novel to the stage, utilising techniques such as breaking the fourth wall to ensure that the medium is used to enhance the storytelling rather than have it be an obstacle or a neutral factor in the play.

Similarly, the entire creative team has done great work. The use of physical theatre combined with versatile props allows the play to keep moving at a good pace without there being too much clutter on stage, while the set itself helps the audience to understand the highly mathematical mind of Christopher Boone. The lighting and sound also contribute both to providing the context and conditions of the action of the play, as well as relating how Christopher thinks and experiences the world. Furthermore, the way in which all the technical and acting facets of the play complement each other speaks to the brilliance of Marianne Elliot’s directing.

One of the best aspects of the play is that while there is light humour – necessary considering the serious subject matter at the heart of the play – it does not in any way distract from that central core, which is engaged with sensitively and touchingly. The audience really gets a sense of the difficulties that conditions such as Christopher’s affect not only the person themselves but also their family, and how these stresses can take a great toll on them, portraying just how hard it is for other people to understand autistic spectrum conditions.

Overall, this is wonderful play with a real depth and richness, and is suitable and accessible for both adults and secondary school children, and is a really great night out.

Reviewed by Thomas Willcox
6 December 2018, Piccadilly Theatre