Product Promotion Network

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time opens at Newcastle Theatre Royal

A curious Barbara Hodgson takes a seat at Newcastle Theatre Royal[1] for the first night of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time> Anyone who’s read Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel has to be curious to find out how the unique tale translates to the stage. Many fans have already found out as this National Theatre production has been doing the rounds for some time now and is itself an award-winner, with seven Oliviers and five Tony Awards under its belt.

It’s taken on Broadway and has already had a previous hit run at the Theatre Royal[2] when it arrived fresh from West End success in 2015. But, on the opening night this time around, I was among those who hadn’t yet seen Simon Stephens’ adaptation and didn’t know quite what to expect.

Scott Reid as Christopher BooneScott Reid as Christopher Boone

From the opening scene, the production makes an impact – not least with a burst of nerve-jangling music and the sight of a dead dog with a pitchfork stuck in its side. And we meet 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who has Asperger syndrome and whose discovery of his neighbour’s pet starts him on a detective hunt to find the culprit.

Played by Scott Reid, who’s best known for roles in BBC comedy[3] Still Game, as well as Line of Duty, the troubled teen comes across as both likeable and vulnerable as he struggles to cope with the disruption caused to his ordered life which triggers sudden flare-ups. Out of kilter with a world whose wheels are oiled by little white lies, Christopher speaks only the truth and he takes things literally. He hates being touched – and he hates the colours yellow and brown.

He likes routine, maths and the colour red. Colour is important in this production too – and it’s all visually stunning. As Christopher’s dogged (excuse the pun) hunt for the animal’s killer sheds light on a mystery closer to home, he experiences sensory overload.

The whole stage lights up blue and becomes a mass of dazzling, swirling lights in scenes where his brilliant mind goes into overdrive. Next, it’s flooded with scattering letters then numbers appear on the huge grid pattern that covers the floor and backdrop as he retreats into his own world to find comfort in his sums.

Emma Beattie (Judy) and Scott Reid (Christopher Boone)Emma Beattie (Judy) and Scott Reid (Christopher Boone)

In happier times he’s transported through a dazzling universe as we hear about his love of the stars. Not wanting to spoil the story for those who don’t know it, suffice to say it involves a trip to London whose railway noise and bustle – terrifying for someone with Asperger syndrome – is brilliantly captured with sound and light.

Reid is supported by heartfelt performances from David Michaels and Emma Beattie as his parents while the excellent ensemble cast take on multiple roles of people encountered by Christopher; literally propelling him along his route. He’s lifted by them and bourne through the air, looking as if he’s flying. Other times it’s like a piece of ballet.

This is a production which ensures the charm of the novel remains intact while coming up with imaginative ways to show, as well as tell, a unique story.

Both affecting and lovely to watch, it’s here until June 10 so grab a ticket if you can.

References

  1. ^ Newcastle Theatre Royal (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)
  2. ^ the Theatre Royal (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)
  3. ^ in BBC comedy (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *