Bristol Hippodrome

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

June 2017

Thinking outside the box

I have seen the stage show and read the book and now I have seen the show again, why?

Because it is so good and this time I took my daughter who an English teacher at Weston College to get a educational perspective on the story which was part of the A-level curriculum for this summer.

Basically, it is about a dysfunctional family coping with an autistic child – oh, and it is a whodunnit.

Amazingly I was so enthralled with the technical wizardry of the production first time round that I had forgotten all the action takes place inside a square box or it explains the fundamentals of a right-angled triangle and also surprisingly the script contains a number of F-words.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time written by Mark Haddon was first published in 2003.

Its strange title quotes the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 short story Silver Blaze.

Your senses are bombarded from the start with overwhelming noise and flashing lights to give you a sensory overload and therefore an understanding of being inside the chaotic head of an autistic person.

The show tells the story of Christopher Boone, who is fifteen years old. 

He stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion.

He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. 

He has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. 

He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and distrusts strangers. 

But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

And that’s it in a nutshell or to be more precise and in the style of Master Boone in seven sentences.

When seeing a show for the second time you lose the element of surprise and you know ‘whodunnit’ but then so does the audience by the interval.

On second showing, this time with a new cast, you gain a more detailed insight.

Like Christopher’s tell-tale but factual report of the behaviour of his classmates – with the hunger pangs of a pupil with Prader-Willi Syndrome which made them eat their own poo and the blue toilet block.

It reminds you of a time when all children whatever the disability whether physical, medical or emotional were lumped together in ‘special’ schools.

Christopher has fits, is a picky eater and pees himself when stressed.

He is obsessed with colours and patterns which affect his day-to-day life.

And his frustrated, exhausted parents crave affection from a boy only able to show love to his pet rat.

The dad escapes by working long hours and while he is away at work his mum seeks solace by shagging a neighbour.

Daughter was impressed by the sound, lighting and animation and although language was integral to the performance it was the use of supplementary movement and comedy to differentiate the characters which really impinged on her.

She said: “When we first walked in my initial reaction to the set was oh it is really empty, contemporary not necessarily my chosen style but as the play progressed you realise the technicality and cleverness especially the realistic underground rail scene.

“It makes you think about how confusing metaphoric and idiomatic language can be when giving instructions.”

Christopher may know lots about prime numbers and the solar system but he doesn’t get speech like ‘apple of my eye’ or small talk.

Daughter added; “The strategies of the teacher is to provide clear, simply and effect instructions to provice Christopher with coping strategies for complex situations in his literal world.

“It was almost as if she was talking in a second language detached from emotion.

“The lead actor could have been a trained dancer or gymnast as his body strength especially when he was hiding in the rail luggage rack was amazing.

“The undulating people showing movement on the train and when the actors demonstrated different ages of the characters was really impressive and as important as the dialogue.

"I loved the part where on the underground Christopher repeats verbatim what the Jamaican ticket collector says oblivious to social connotation of mimicing a West Indian accent."

The show with its precise timing, comic element and raw emotion is a must.

The standout performance of this ensemble for me was the dad Ed (David Michaels) and teacher Siobhan (Lucianne McEvoy) and for my daughter it was Christopher (Scott Reid) and his mother Judy (Emma Beattie), we both loved the head teacher but it is a great cast who took a well-deserved standing ovation from a sell-out audience.

And after writing this review do you know what - I would like to see it again!

Carol Deacon

Another curious incident at Hippodrome

 

PREVEIW: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is my favourite stage show of all time and it returns for one week on to the Bristol Hippodrome from Tuesday to Saturday, June 13-17.

I was in awe the last time I saw the show and you can read my review by clicking HERE.

The National Theatre 2017 tour of its multi-award-winning production is an adaption from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott began in January.   

The irst phenomenally successful tour which was seen by almost 400,000 people nationwide.

National Theatre producer Kash Bennett said: ‘We were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic  reception from audiences around the UK and Ireland when we toured The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in 2014-15, and are delighted to take this beautiful and inventive show to new venues and make a return visits to others next year.’

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time received seven Olivier Awards in 2013, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design and five Tony Awards on Broadway including Best Play.  

Curious Incident continues to play to packed houses at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End, with bookings recently extended to the end of January 2017.  

 The production is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Paule Constable, video design by Finn Ross, movement by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.  

Director Marianne Elliott also co-directed the National Theatre’s record-breaking production of War Horse which will be touring from September 2017.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells the story of Christopher Boone, who is fifteen years old.  

He stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion.

He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington.  

He has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life.  

He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and distrusts strangers.  

But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

For tickets from £19.40 click HERE.

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