The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Critics' choice
1/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Graham Butler (Christopher Boone)

2/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Siobhan (Sarah Woodward) and Christopher Boone (Graham Butler)

3/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Christopher Boone (Graham Butler)

4/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Christopher Boone (Graham Butler) and cast

5/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Christopher Boone (Graham Butler)

6/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Ed (Nicolas Tennant) and Christopher Boone (Graham Butler)

7/7
© Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Christopher Boone (Graham Butler) and cast

Gielgud Theatre, Chinatown Monday March 30 2015 - Saturday October 24 2015
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Three theatres, three casts, one major disaster and seven Olivier Awards on, the National Theatre’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel about Christopher Boone, the teenage ‘mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’ remains a thing of unbridled wonder.

The occasion for this re-review is the end of the enforced layoff inflicted upon ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. The show figuratively blew the roof off when it transferred from the NT to the Apollo Theatre, but unfortunately the ageing ceiling responded by literally collapsing, necessitating a change of venue and months off. Hopefully, that episode will provide a footnote.

The most important thing is that Simon Stephens’s adaptation remains high tech and high quality. The first Christopher, Luke Treadaway, will always cast a huge shadow, and incumbent Graham Butler can’t match his coiled spring energy and manic otherness. But if Butler offers a gentler, more ‘normal’ hero, his superficial lack of strangeness means that it’s all the more heartbreaking when his nameless condition – presumably Asperger’s – leaves him suddenly, unexpectedly broken, unable to cope with something as simple as a human touch.  

Ultimately ‘Curious Incident’ is a tragedy about a family torn apart by the pressures of looking after their son. Nicolas Tennant and Emily Joyce are excellent as Christopher’s bumblingly selfless dad Ed and agonised mum Judy, driven to put her own wellbeing before that of the child who will never love her in the way she loves him.

The genius of Marianne Elliott’s production is that the tragedy is bound up in so much charm, whimsy, good humour and virtuoso staging that you only occasionally feel blue as Christopher – convinced his dad is dangerous – embarks on an ill-advised odyssey to London to find his mum.

Bunny Christie’s design was neat at the intimate Cottesloe, but blown up for a big stage it’s awe-inspiring, her huge mathematical grid set flaring with life at every turn: maps, cities, trains, constellations – the wondrous strange workings of Christopher’s mind, pumped into something exhilarating by Adrian Sutton’s electronic score.

Perhaps it was weight of expectations, but at the NT I felt the show was a brilliant but conventional adaptation of Haddon’s unconventional bestseller, reliant on Treadaway for greatness. But on a bigger stage, its virtuoso techiness is given full reign – this is a show that’s as extraordinary as its hero.

Venue name: Gielgud Theatre
Contact:
Address: Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 6AR
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Event phone: 0870 830 0200

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:28
  • 4 star:12
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|42
1 person listening
Amanda R

Wow! Went to the Gielgud Theatre yesterday with my 17 year old son and 13 year old daughter. What an incredible show! The acting, direction and set were all superb. It was powerful, moving, funny, sad and very clever and we were all enthralled. I had read the book but my children hadn't and they loved it as much as I did. A must see!

SMcFly

Set is absolutely fantastic and really innovative. Lead actor was also excellent.

Alicia D

One of the best shows I have ever seen. The use of the stage and actors were impeccable, there was not once a dull moment. I also liked the fact that they very much stuck with the original script. Very enjoyable for all ages.  

jack w

AMAZING! It is rare that I find an adaptation of one of my favorite books that I feel is successful but this was amazing. I loved every minute of it, cried for 2/3 of it and laughed for the other 1/3. The cast were all very strong and the set and staging really pulled everything together into a slick and seamless show. 


My only criticism is that there were some parts of the book that were thrown in but not explained properly. This left my partner a little confused. But I, having read the book at least 7 times knew it inside and out! For example, when he asks for the radio in act 2, and when he draws the smiley face on the back wall. This is explained in the book but not in the play.

Charly L
Staff Writer

Incredible - like no other London theatre experience.  Funny, heart-felt and extremely well cast, I loved every minute.  I hadn't read the book beforehand, and you don't need to.  The set designers have created a visual masterpiece, and the cast don't disappoint.  

Dominic J

I have seen the performance on five occasions with different Christopher's. I feel that Abram Rooney does not get the credit that he deserves. He has clearly mastered his brief  and his performance reflects this. On each occasion that I have seen him perform he has developed the character and brings. 


Specifically, he plays the part with the appropriate energy which allows the audience to empathise not only with his character but those of the other protagonists.. From the very first scene when Christopher examines that dead dog, the audience is able to see the sense of curiosity and wonderment with which Christopher views the dog. 


When interacting with the other protagonists the audience is able to effortlessly portray Christopher's detachment from the other protagonists and in doing so highlights the difficulties that he faces and the frustration that those around him experience. When Christopher is distressed he plays the part with an appropriate level of energy that his wholly believable. 


This is not to say that the performance is a one man show - far from it.  The other protagonists create an ensemble that are trying to make sense of Christopher. Initially, when I watched the performance I thought it was about Christopher and how he reacted to those around him. It began to dawn on me that it more about how the others react to him.  


Reverend Peter's (Tony Turner) admirably attempts to explain the whereabouts of Heaven to Christopher and you are left feeling that they are talking on different levels.  The Tube assistant (Vivienne Acheampong) believes that she is being mocked when Christopher asks her a literal question and imitates her accent. These are just two examples that show not only the difficulties experienced by Christopher but the frustrations and the challenges and lack of understanding experienced by those around Christopher.  


The lightening, music and set are fantastic. They create both an audible and visual back drop as to give the audience a flavour of what Christopher has to experience. 


Finally, but by no ,means least, although not technically part of the stage performance the courtesy and professionalism of Greg and his dedicated team of theatre staff decked out in "I find people confusing tee-shirts" enter into the spirit of the occasion and put the icing on the cake.


Go see - but check Abram Rooney out as the lead and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. 



Michel H

Whit all the pressure they put on me i' was not in my better time is true but whit appreciation a be nice like i am and dont juge pepole before you speak whit is not very Freat to do that

i can speak an learn fast


Jean Oglethorpe

Mike Noble did an incredible job playing a 15-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome! It was a WOW production for me. I was very lucky to have gotten a ticket at the last minute and thought that it was very moving and inspirational. The Time Out Review is right on!!!

Rosemary

Ive read the book and loved it. I saw this play and was blown away by the whole experience. I feel that Christopher carried the whole play and in many ways the other actors were incidental (is that a pun?) to the story. Brilliant. Highly recommended.

Emilia

It's a first: I liked the show more than the book. On stage, Christopher's character acquires nuances I could not imagine on the page.His touching naivety adds depth to the conflicts experienced by the adults around him, creating a totally believable three-dimensional experience which is fully absorbing. The merit goes to a top cast which, even with a major interruption due to an accident amongst the audience which occurred right at the climax, regained energy and full control of the story. The set is a magic box with seemingly endless possibilities like the inside of a Kubrick's cube. Seven well deserved Olivier awards indeed and 4 stars from me.

SB

I read the book but my husband hadn't. he's also not as into the theater as I am but still loved it. would highly recommend

Mel

I have seen this play twice and enjoyed it immensely both times. The acting in it was brilliant, particuarly the lead- I work with adults who have autism and thought that it was a sensitive and fair portrayal of someone with autism (it wasn't over the top or patronising). A level of pathos was achieved and you could hear strong reactions within the audience. The set is fantastic, and they have made some great additions to the set, sound and lighting/ effects since moving theatres. I would (and have) recommended this to others.

Jacqui

Very clever set and effects. Great acting which really conveyed a sense of the protagonist's internal dilemmas.

Elly Sandberg

I thought it was absolutely excellent - the lighting on stage was fantastic and very creative. Absolutely loved the surprise at the end! Made me laugh a lot.

jenssen

I am now curious as to why I couldn't read beyond a dozen pages of the book. I have not been moved so much by a play as by this one. The staging is very clever.

Rachel

Brilliant, innovative staging and superb acting by the lead, who perfectly brings out the poignancy of the writing. Far and away the best production I've seen for a long time.

Parker

Thoroughly enjoyed this last week. The main actor was amazing and the set and effects were great. Recommended!

Rachel Giora

I enjoyed every minute of it. The acting was superb, the director did an excellent job and the production on the whole was the best I saw in London so far.

Penny

I have seen hundreds of plays all over the world over 3 decades: this play is absolutely original and truly inspirational. The writing is poignant. The staging is absolutely and literally brilliant. Performances are spot on. Love the light-hearted seriousness of the story. An important work done is a totally accessible, unpretentious manner. Can't say enough good about it. I look forward to attending again and again, and sharing this gem with friends and family.

Tasha McLintock

"By far the best theatre I have seen in a very long time - and I have seen a lot of theatre" The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, written by Mark Haddon, follows the story of Christopher John Francis Boone. Christopher is a teenager driven by numbers, colours and solving a mystery! It is never stated what Christopher's condition might be, instead we just see him with a councilor talking about his day to day experiences. However, there are signifiers throughout the text that could suggest Aspberger Syndrome could be part of the reason for his behaviour. I was recently surprised by my other half with a pair of tickets to see the recent stage adaptation of the best selling book and was overwhelmed with excitement - I had been dropping hints for long enough! In the build up to the show, I kept being warned, "We're up in the Gods. The seats really aren't that great, don't get too excited." What a load of rubbish that was! He was correct, we were up in the Gods (not for those suffering from vertigo!) but I think the Gods is where we needed to be to see this little slice of heaven. As you can see from the stage shot below, watching from a birds eye view was advantageous and that definitely wasn't isolated to this single scene. curious The set was packed with hundreds of LED lights that were essential in setting the scene. Props were minimal and so you relied on the LED lights throughout. They were used very well to distinguish location. My favourite use of the LED lighting was when the staging transformed into a galaxy of beautiful shimmering stars. This was accompanied by a dance sequence which made it look like Christopher was flying through space. It was stunning and definitely the highlight of the performance. The acting throughout the piece was faultless. I was particularly impressed with Luke Treadaway who played Christopher. Performing such a complex character in a sympathetic manner is renownedly difficult to do. I, myself, have had to do a piece of theatre on Autism Spectrum Disorder and found it extremely hard to find the right balance. However, Luke Treadaway did a fantastic job to which I commend him. I don't want to give too much away so I'll just close this review by saying this - If you don't go and see it, you're crazy and you'll regret it forever because you will only ever hear good things about it, so go...now. Do it!

Elena

Fantastic, utterly entertaining, brilliantly acted (protagonist is simply amazing). We loved it all through the 2.5 hours. Having read the novel, I even thought the theatrical adaptation was better than the novel! Well done, I truly recommend it.

Peter

Super show, excellent performances and set design. Thoroughly enjoyable evening, so much so I am thinking of seeing it again. London theatre can be expensive, but with this production great value for money. A show for all ages.

Ido Vanblijdesteijn (NL)

Excellent entertainment and show both in acting and technical. Gives very good insight of the problems that parents face with childeren with the syndrome and similar affections. Most enjoyable and funny. The mark up on the face value of the tickets is much too high.

Julie Bissett

A conundrum – how to recreate a best-selling and hugely moving book on stage. Simon Stephens' adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel is a delight. He transfers the novel seamlessly into a theatrical experience of superb acting, great narrative and a light show all cleverly fused together to match the humour and emotion of Haddon's award-winning book. Go see it. You will not be disappointed.

denise leigh

Very good with two provisos: it is highly advisable to read the book first and seats in the balcony are to be avoided in the Shafestbury Apollo as a design feature ensures poor acoustics. The mark up on the tickets was a huge rip-off!

Cmp

This is a must see show - the subject matter demands great finesse from everyone to make it engaging, tender and moving while never descending into parody or sentimentality. It's pitch perfect making this one of those rare evenings in the theatre that's as entertaining as it's enlightening. The only sour note came from using Time Out to buy tickets and not realising what a comprehensive rip off that is, huge mark up on theatre prices - be warned.

Giulia

I read the book few years ago and I was really curious to see how the director chose to put it on the stage. I must say I really enjoyed the show! I appreciated in particular Luke Treadaway’s performance as Christopher. He makes you laugh and cry and then laugh again throughout all the show! I recommend it!

Tina

I read the book a long time ago so couldn't quite remember all the details but the show was amazing!!! The set was simple but so cleverly designed, I loved the never ending numbers of cubby holes popping up from everywhere, the train track was such a great design leading up to the interval! Even if you had not read the book, it would not prevent you from enjoying the performance for what it is. I highly recommend this show and am considering dragging my maths genius of a brother to go watch it with me again!!

Miha

Amazing performance. As good as book! Fantastic. I recommend it!

Aisling

Fantastic adaptation of Haddon's book, managing to capture so much of the magic in the telling of this moving story.

Jan

Loved this clever adaptation of the book. A thoroughly enjoyable night out but an expensive one!

Millie Walton

Simon Stephen’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel about a 15-year-old boy with “Behavioural Problems” (Haddon resented the words ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ appearing on the book’s front cover when it was first released) is quite simply ingenious. Sidestepping any urges to “narrate” the book word for word, Stephens’ dramatic conceit convinces us that what we are watching is a school play based on Christopher’s own book. Whilst Bunny Christie’s clever stage-design continually discredits it’s own ostensible simplicity with toy trains puffing round the stage, an escalator appearing up a wall and a host of other nifty tricks. Never once does the play fall flat on its face in front of the book. Rather it acts as a beautiful tribute, acknowledging the poignancy of Haddon’s tale whilst also accentuating the humour and making, the protagonist’s, Christopher Boone’s “Behavioural Problems” strikingly relatable: his need for control, his fear of the unknown, his bafflement at life. Who hasn’t felt the way Christopher does, standing in the middle of Victoria train station: overwhelmed by the noises, people and billboards? Sometimes you just want to curl up and cry (or in Christopher’s case moan). But we don’t we carry on. And so does Christopher. It is Luke Treadaway’s astonishing performance as Christopher that carries the show. He’s uncomfortable to watch in the moments of distress, but also shows his character’s extreme courage and intelligence; at the age of 15 Christopher sits an A-Level mathematics exam on no sleep and barely any food and achieves a top grade. His perspectives on the world are alarmingly insightful, if a little bizarre, and his inability to lie both hilarious and touching. The supporting cast also give impressive performances, especially Christopher’s parents who poignantly convey the hardships of having a child who can’t bear to be touched. However, it is Treadaway, or rather Christopher who leaves the theatre with you.

W Rappeport

The stage was very creatively designed, with cubby holes, fantastic lighting, moving bits and boxes to share with the audience the feeling of confusion and clarity that the designers must have wanted to convey as 'the autistic experience'. Unfortunately, I could only spring for the cheap seats at the very last minute, so had to view the play from the perspective of a very small bird perched at the top; and felt I missed out on the truly spectacular audio-visual elements. The acting was very well done, IMHO, but sometimes the voices were not audible from up high. In terms of pacing, I found the beginning engrossing and engaging, but for me, the second half dragged, and a good 20 minutes could have been removed without hurting the storyline. The 'surprise' at the end was an easy win for the playwrite :) Thanks for a good show on a tough subject :)

Lee

Brilliant- absolutely loved it. If you enjoyed the book, you'll love the stage adaptation. Well worth seeing just for the creative set and staging.

Eric Wolton

Marvellous! impressively delivered and a very creative adaptation of the book. Moving and shocking in places the set had great impact, as did the puppy!! It was nice to enjoy something a little different in the West End.

Natasha Clark

Magical theatre. I read the book as a teenager, and loved the unique perception. Despite having few actors, as there are few main parts in the book, the cast adapted and played multiple roles well, though the first half did drag slightly. Christopher was excellently played - not patronised, and as realistic as a child with Aspergers would have been, based on my experience with children. The use of comedic relief helped to bring the seriousness of the issues involved back down to earth, and provided a barrier that this disability erects between other people and Christopher. Despite the childish nature of the whole thing, it simply added to and reflected the logical and simplistic brain structure of Christopher and how he saw the world. The stage and lighting, however, was a fantastic asset and probably the highlight of the performance. The use of bright lighting modernised the set, and the visual expression of the characters running around the small stage mirrored the chaos of his mind and enhanced the intense personal insight into his thoughts. I got the cheap seats at £12 and got a damn good view at the very top, but would have been a little better a bit further down. Overall, a really interesting and exciting perception of disability, a sensitive but modern adaptation of the classic novel.

Alex

Not as fantastic as some make out. That's the problem with over inflated reviews, expectations were high. The first half drags and the acting is too over wrought. I know some people with Aspergers and having an actor too old for the role who plays the part as if the kid is an imbecile doesn't help. Also, the other actors over state the characters and the mother and father are just plain irritating. It was all too childish and unbelievable for me. It can't hold a candle to the book which was believable. By the way, the tickets are well over priced and as someone else said, given the size of the theatre - it is very, very small - you could happily sit in the cheapest seats and still see everything. Those Olivier Awards are very misleading!

Sarah

Absolutely brilliant. A really clever production, with the cast having multiple roles and a ingenious use of staging. The acting is spot on making everyone laugh and cry throughout. A definite must see.