Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Norwich Theatre Royal
- Credit: Archant
It is not often a play attempts to bring its audience inside the protagonist's head - Shakespeare's soliloquies aside.
But the venture into the jumbled but brilliant intellect of 15-year-old Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is as successful as it is daring.
Scottish actor Scott Reid plays Christopher with sensitivity, enthusiasm and a dash of impishness, sharing his innermost thoughts with the audience as if we were his secret diary.
Christopher has 'behavioural problems' - he attends a special school, does not like yellow and cannot abide being touched - it is Asperger syndrome, although this is never spelled out.
At the play's opening Christopher is in the midst of finding his neighbour's dog, Wellington, dead after being speared with a garden fork. He decides to investigate and for the first half of the show at least, we get an odd kind of whodunnit, which only dredges up more questions than it answers.
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But at its heart, this is a tale about family and the lengths we go to in order to protect them, even if that means doing things we (or Christopher) would not approve of.
Full kudos has to go to Reid for bringing to life such a complex being, and he is really the only one on stage who is given a chance to shine. Every other role is sketched through Christopher's unique view of the world.
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The set - like a giant cube that fills with light an noise - brilliantly helps us see the world as Christopher does - from flights of fancy into space when he is at peace to the turmoil he feels at a busy tube station.
I read the Mark Haddon novel on which the play is based more than 10 years ago and remember it as an enlightening, if jarring, sojourn into someone else's mindset. Seeing it on stage only intensifies that effect, mixing in a serving of black humour.
The combination of an excellent lead, intriguing story and inventive backdrop leave you in little doubt as to why this National Theatre production has claimed a string of awards and has become a fan favourite from Broadway to the West End.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at Norwich Theatre Royal until September 2, tickets from 01603 6300000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk