Presented by The National Theatre of Great Britain and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions
Reviewed 31 July 2018
Winner of 5 Tony Awards, 7 Olivier Awards and Sold Out seasons wherever it plays, The National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time has a lot of hype to live up to. It meets the hype and rushes past it, in this magnificent adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best selling novel of the same name.
The story appears deceptively simple to start with: ‘Asperger’ sufferer, 15 year old Christopher Boone has written a book for his Special Care teacher, explaining what happened on the night that he discovered his neighbour’s dog stabbed and killed with a pitch fork. Initially blamed for the crime, Christopher sets out to discover what really happened – and, along with others, discovers so much more.
Simon Stephens’ articulate script captures all the emotions, good and bad, involved in having ‘Asperger Syndrome’ – both from the sufferer and the onlooker’s perspective. He and Director Marianne Elliott, with the assistance of some extremely effective technical effects, not only explain ‘Asperger’s” clearly but cleverly takes the audience and places them, at times, into what it must feel like inside a sufferer’s brain.
As young Christopher, Joshua Jenkins is absolutely superb and supreme in his portrayal. One never stops believing that he has ‘Asperger’s’ and we empathise with him from the off. Jenkins’ believability stems from his obvious mastery of his art and his incredible physicality. The well performed physical aspect of the production applies to the rest of the cast as well. The role of Christopher is mammoth and Jenkins pulls it off spectacularly.
The rest of the National Theatre cast are wonderful as well, but kudos must go, in particular, to Stuart Laing as Ed, the father and Julie Hale as Special Care teacher, Siobhan. Laing gives us a man who is frustrated but really trying to come to terms with his son’s intellectual problems, and does it well. The scene in Act One where he and Jenkins stand side by side at the front of the stage not uttering a word speaks volumes, and is a masterful moment of theatre in itself. Hale could have so easily made her role diabetically sweet but instead gives us a ‘niceness’ that is wholly realistic.
This production is a true theatrical experience, with every moment and action stunning, enveloping and taking its audience’s breath away. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed. And warning: do not leave immediately after the curtain call – the experience hasn’t stopped.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Adelaide Entertainment Centre – Theatre
Season: Until 4 August 2018
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins including interval
Tickets: $94.90 -$124.90