The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Apollo Theatre, Westend Theatre.
I remember reading this book when growing up and raving about it and I feel that thanks to ravings of Teenager Jamie it is now been made into a very successful play. Only joking…. ( a little ) but I am so glad that it has transitioned onto stage.
My friend Norm was in town from the states and if you read my review of Miss Saigon you would know that Norm was knocked off a push bike before we went to that show. This year we managed to see a show with no injuries!!!! Yay!! ( Miss Saigon Review )
Now to the actual show..
With elements of the book bleeding out into the auditorium, seats that were prime numbers were marked up with a little competition to see if your name numerically equalled a prime number. Making a few audience members a bit dazed, this was a fun little way to break the 4th wall and get a free badge if your name equated to a prime number 😉
The set is simple, well what you think is simple. Almost Matrix/Tron style you just see black walls with some faint grids and lines on it. As the show unfolds the ‘simple’ set seems to come alive through a series of lights, hidden cupboards, ladders and stairs. Maps unfolding before your eyes and simple props,with the help of the cast, seem to move and take shape like a ‘Be our guest’ Beauty and the Beast scene.
The use of L.E.D lights and screens give a downscaled MTV/X Factor effect really helping to move the story on or highlight the struggles that ‘Christopher’ ( male lead characters name ) faces being an autistic child.
The cast not only play a multitude of characters throughout the show but also help give life to the thoughts and voices in Christopher’s Head and help animate objects to show his daily routine.
Christopher Played by Graham Butler for this performance (and sometimes by Abram Rooney) was superb. I always imagined working on a medical drama would be a challenge, having to learn all of the medical terms and so on but this play gives that idea a run for it’s money. No only did Graham Butler have to embody the characteristics of an autistic child he also had to have the advanced mental capacity to constantly see his life through maths equations and problem solving. He manages to catch the innocence of a child while remembering complex equations etc ( Thank you script ) and I am sure he will go on to star in more promising theatre.
Two of my favourite scenes without giving too much away involve A) When Christopher seems to be just building a train track on stage which turns out to be the journey he must take to solve the crime and B) The scene when he pretends to go into out of space where the cast become an extension of Christopher and space. Helping him to glide around the stage and bounce from wall to wall in a ‘zero gravity’ environment.
For some of the ensemble it is quite a heavy show as often they are not only being additional characters or voices in Christopher’s head but also animating objects on stage. For the other portion of the cast their tracks are not too heavy but I can tell that is all based on an understudy point of view.
I can imagine it is very challenging for the props department, stage hands and ASM having to reset so many intricate pieces and props after everyshow.
The music used was great and at times I felt like I was playing a video game. A Clever touch was adding a static white noise sound every time Christopher was touched helping make the audience realise how uncomfortable it must be for him.
There are no live microphones throughout the performance which makes for an interesting choice. Again I believe this to be an extension of Christopher’s struggle with life and although very clever with the lack of microphones and dark lighting – it can be a struggle for the audience and particularly anyone with jet lag ( i.e Norm ) to stay focused.
Anyone who knows me well will know my obsession with small animals and the audience are in for a treat at the very end..
Such a clever piece of theatre paving its own way and not confirming to generic West End formate. Probably not the best show to watch if you are planning and big night out after but definitely well worth a watch and a read of the book.