What a beautiful show.
No, really. I go to the theatre a lot. But there isn’t one show I’ve seen like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. This show is heartfelt, thought-provoking, meticulous and visually stunning.
When reviewing shows on this blog, I try to remain fairly positive. Even if I didn’t like the show, there’s always good things to say about them. Whether it’s actors that stood out, catchy songs or just a really damn good set, I’ll find something I liked. But I don’t even need to try this time. In fact, I think I’m going to have to keep this post short and sweet just to avoid overloading you all with praise for Curious Incident.
What is so compelling about this show is how the staging is so cleverly intertwined with Christopher (Scott Reid). The minimalist set, coupled with the use of physical theatre, demonstrates how he thinks. We see what in a room demands his attention. We watch him process thoughts, linking ideas together like toy train tracks. We literally see how he analyses and understands the world around him; when he unlocks a door, he considers each component of the lock and how it works.
Christopher is extraordinary, and that is spelled out for us onstage. The portrayal of sensory overload was a stroke of genius, using the multi-sensory features of the theatre to make the audience so uncomfortable that they felt at least a fraction of what Christopher feels on a daily basis. Too often, people ask “what does it feel like?” or claim that they “just don’t get it”. Well, go and see Curious Incident. It’ll explain better then any of us ever could. Without using the words “autism” or “Asperger syndrome“, or explaining what a sensory overload is, it forces the audience to empathise with the intensity of Christopher’s everyday life. Even if they have never heard of a sensory overload, they still find themselves experiencing one.
The use of voices in this production was clever. By introducing a frame narrative (which I am told doesn’t exist in the book), and routinely giving the reins to Siobhan (Lucianne McEvoy), the audience feel as though they are joining in with her conversation with Christopher, watching him develop as a character.
By bringing in his mother (Emma Beattie) to read out letters, or reenact memories, such moments become much more emotionally charged. The audience suddenly feel like they are intruding on private moments, but can also tap into the love and yearning felt by both characters.
I haven’t read the book. I hadn’t when I stepped into The Mayflower that night, and I still haven’t. But I will. This text has quite literally been brought to life, and no book could ever communicate the vision that I witnessed from my tiny seat in the dress circle. The show made the audience laugh and cry, we connected with Christopher during those three hours, and walk away feeling as though we’ve made a new friend, confirmed by his finale. This is not a show that you simply go to watch, but is a complete experience for any audience member. Even if you don’t like theatre, you will love this.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is no longer running in Southampton, but you can still catch it in the West End, or find the remaining UK tour dates here. For other productions at The Mayflower Theatre, click here or call their Box Office on 02380 711811.