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Interview: Joshua Jenkins from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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In 2012, it debuted at the Royal National Theatre, transferring to the West End at the Apollo Theatre in 2013. One roof catastrophe later, it opened at the Gielgud Theatre before rooting itself across the pond in Broadway and is now up for six Tony awards.

This, of course, is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the story about 15-year-old Christopher Boone with Asperger’s syndrome, growing up in Swindon and attempting to solve the murder of his neighbour’s dog.

The irony that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tore the roof down is almost too funny not to mention.

Now on its national tour around the country, Joshua Jenkins sits with me just off the impressive cuboid stage in the empty, red plush, chandelier lit auditorium of Birmingham Hippodrome before opening night.

Joshua trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and “It’s a wonderful experience taking this brilliant play across the country but especially when you come to these big cities like Birmingham at these wonderful venues, there’s a little bit more of a buzz,” he tells me while looking around the venue, somewhat blown away.

“I can’t wait,” he finishes, mouth still ajar.

A squeak from Toby distracts us, resonating on the stage just an arm’s width away. Toby is Christopher’s pet rat and frequently features during the show. See it as the rodent version of Legally Blonde’s Chihuahua. We obviously then start talking about the spectacle of the staging for Curious (…).

Set Designers, Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, scooped up the Olivier for Best Set Design, one Olivier of seven from 2013, including Best New Play, Best Director and Best Actor. There’s not a part of this show that isn’t award winning.

“The box represents Christopher’s mind,” Josh tells me.

“It’s like his laboratory where he can work and pull things out and draw. The box lights up and things are projected onto the box and it expresses what’s going on in his mind. Chris finds the world overwhelming and loud and confusing and we show that through lighting, sound and movement.”

The heartfelt story about a genuinely wonderful boy growing up within a broken family originates from the novel by Mark Haddon, now referred to as a Modern Classic and taught in schools for GCSE literature.

Joshua explains that Simon Stephens’ adaption stays true to the original book, telling me how he read the book several years before his audition.

“I read the Simon Stephens’ adaptation and thought it was beautiful so I reread the book again and again and again and it became like a bible to me. It’s a great tool to have and all the answers are there.”

There’s an infectious quality to Curious Incident (…), it’s spreading across the world like wildfire, taught in school and creeping its innocent way across the UK. It’s a curious thought (pardon the pun) to wonder how it’s done so well.

“I think at its core it’s just a beautiful story about a wonderful boy,” Josh tells me.

“It’s about family and love and coming of age and it’s something we can all relate to. In terms of the production, it’s a beautiful play but with the production values of a huge West End show, which is unique.”

The show has worked alongside Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, founders and Movement Directors of the infamous Frantic Assembly, known for pushing the boundaries of physical theatre and defying physics. Mention of previous training immediately gets Josh sighing, you can tell they were worked hard.

“It’s a working process I’ve never done before and wasn’t used to t but they were so brilliant. We did a boot camp every morning just to get into shape and we spent the rest of the morning working on the physical parts of the play which are really demanding”, he explains before laughing,  “by the time we got to the acting we were all knackered.

"I absolutely loved every second working with Frantic Assembly. It’s wonderful to see how characters and scenes can be expressed more than just saying words. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before."

We conclude by talking about Josh’s dream role following the end of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

“Pfffffft”, he lets out, causing his fringe to blow up. “I’d love to play some Shakespearean roles, maybe Hamlet.

“Someone said to me once that your career chooses you.”

Catch The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at Birmingham Hippodrome until the 6th June.

Read our five star review here.




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