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Theatre Review: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Birmingham Hippodrome


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National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is infamous for three things: the ceiling collapse of the Apollo theatre in December 2013, being littered with seven Olivier Awards (including Best New Play) and the original novel being considered a national treasure, with it now being taught at GCSE English Literature across the UK.

Now embarking on a national tour after a successful opening on Broadway, it’s immediately clear why Curious (…) is up for six Tony awards this year. Simon Stephens’ adaption of the story grips onto Mark Haddon’s honest happenings and meanings, but twists the heartfelt story into an astounding visual masterpiece that plays on not what is said, but sometimes what isn’t said, but shown, felt and witnessed. Saying that, lines such as “I like looking at the rain, it makes me think of how well the water in the world is connected”, are crafted virtuosically.

The story follows 15-year-old Christopher Boone, a boy in Swindon with Asperger’s syndrome, and his Sherlock Holmes-esque investigation to find out who killed his neighbour’s pet dog. The story resonates the importance of family and the bitter-sweet feelings of coming of age and is far more than just a curious incident of a dog in the night-time.

Joshua Jenkins’ role of Christopher is utterly convincing and a near-on perfect performance of the role. The cast worked alongside Frantic Assembly, generating a feel of liquidity in Jenkins’ performance. Though tear jerking at times, Curious (…) is crammed with humour, including flirty cash machines and sarcasm.

The show’s magnificence is enlarged by Bunny Christie’s set design, alongside Paule Constable and Finn Ross, with the cube resembling set having more purposes than Christopher’s Swiss army knife; a chalkboard, railway track, suburban street and crime scene. The set is representative of Christopher’s mind, with the sense of entrapment and discomforting proximity with strange people and feelings; it’s genius. Scenes slipped immediately into each other, created the projection of a constant stream of thought and, in times, panic.

It’s a sentimental chef-d'oeuvre, with an endearing temperament.

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