The Curiously moving incident

Curious that the National Theatre chose not to invite press reviews of this production until the night before it finished its performances here.

Tuesday, 13th January 2015, 10:13 am
Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime
Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime

This was the start of the first national tour of the heavily-garlanded stage adaptation so perhaps NT were being protective of what is a technically complex play to perform.

If so, they must now be reassured it is running on the same rails as its London counterpart. And also that one of the capital’s hot tickets lost none of its heated ability to sell out many of its performances in Salford.

The best hope is that we will see its return soon, as another of the National’s cash-cow productions, à la War Horse or One Man Two Guvnors.

Curious Incident shares, with those plays, the ability to entertain, inform and provoke simultaneously.

Where Mark Haddon’s book allowed readers into the mind and special needs of central character Christopher, Simon Stephens’ stage adaptation, aided by Marianne Elliott’s direction and Bunny Christie’s superlative stage design, actually goes one better, vividly illustrating his thoughts.

Indeed the needs of those inhabiting the world around Christopher, especially those of his troubled father and mother, become more of a dramatic counterpoint to his own world.

There are moments when the bright lights and other visual tricks resemble a cross between an art installation and a fairground ride. Mapped out on a graph paper template they make it easier to understand the order and disorder that is so central to a teenager making sense of life, at the same time as solving a gruesome killing.

This version chooses to alter the much more dramatic opening of the London performance, which is unfortunate, and also loses one or two of the stage
effects, which is forgivable, given the demands of a one-size-fits-all touring production.

But like so much of the National Theatre’s output it is exhilarating, challenging, amusing and moving, and needs a swift return to the region.

David Upton