THE Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is a long running stage adaptation of the 2003 mystery novel of the same name by Mark Haddon. The play has run on London’s West End since 2012, where it has picked up an astounding amount of rightly-deserved love.
It first began touring in 2014, where it received universal critical acclaim. That does not seem set to change with this new performance; indeed, this version of the play is a triumph. The story is split into two halves via an intermission, and each tells a relatively separate tale, at least in terms of tone, which leans more heavily on mystery tropes in the first half and family drama the next.
Both are acted phenomenally by a fantastic cast, though the standouts are undoubtedly the phenomenal Scott Reid, of the BBC1 series Still Game, who plays the self-described “mathematician with some behavioural difficulties,” our protagonist Christopher Boone, and David Michaels as Ed Boone, Christopher’s struggling father.
Reid perfectly portrays the inner struggles of the young, Aspeger Syndrome-afflicted hero. He delivers his lines with a proud and honest staccato that draws laughs and sympathy from the audience in equal abundance.
That balance of tone is something Curious Incident manages with poise and delicacy. Whilst the tale is one that explores some of the deepest flaws of the human condition, Christopher’s refreshingly truthful take on the world and some clever, subtle set-design-jokes keep the laughs coming throughout whilst never feeling out of place or awkward, a difficult balance to keep right when the sombre moments can (and do) hit as hard as the ones found here.
The performance features a host of physical theatre elements, where Reid is passed around the talented cast, as though out of control of his own limbs. Particularly dextrous moments come as Reid seems to stride around the walls of the theatre, supported by black-clad supporting cast.
David Michaels’ portrayal of Christopher’s embattled, conflicted father is sublime. The tone of his voice as he pleads and shouts for the world around him to understand his families struggle, with varying degrees of success.
Another standout of the play is its staging. A spectacular feat even by West End standards, the director Marianne Elliott was an Associate Director at the National Theatre for 10 years, where she worked on War Horse, The Light Princess and the original Curious Incident. It is a feat of staging: lights, props and sound are all used spectacularly to convey emotion, location and more. The Lowry is almost unrecognizable beneath the futuristic Tron-inspired-blackboard that makes up the main stage.
This outstanding play is about travel; both literal and metaphorical. It is about hope, about innocence, about finding the courage to become the best version of yourself. It is also about A Level maths and the mystery of a dead dog. Christopher’s honour, his brave and logical look into the vacuous, dull and deceitful abyss of adulthood is touching and inspirational, and the audience all leave beaming.