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5 things to know about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Written by
Rose Johnstone

When tickets went on sale for the Australian premiere of the British blockbuster, the Melbourne Theatre Company sold more tickets on the first day than any other MTC show in history. Find out what the hype is all about with these five facts on the award-winning production, opening in January 2018.

1. The show is based on a best-selling novel

"It was seven minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’s house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side… but the dog was dead.” These are the opening lines of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a 2003 mystery novel by British author Mark Haddon. The story follows 15-year-old protagonist Christopher Boone, who, after discovering his neighbour’s dog murdered, embarks on a mission to find the perpetrator, which leads him deep into a mystery about his parents. While the plot is genuinely thrilling, the heart of the story is its narrator, Christopher: a mathematically gifted teenager on the autism spectrum, who can’t stand metaphors, the colour yellow or human touch. Ultimately, it’s a story about connection and love, experienced through the perspective of a person who sees the world in a very different way to most of us.

2. The theatrical adaptation has won a record-breaking number of awards

The Curious Incident was adapted for the stage in 2012 by two of London’s National Theatre mainstays, writer Simon Stephens and director Marianne Elliott (War Horse). It took out a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards in 2013, as well as five Tony Awards when it opened on Broadway. Translating Haddon’s complex, first person-narrated story was no simple task, but critics praised Elliott and Stephens for their emotionally rich adaptation. Time Out London wrote that “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.” The show is currently on a major North American tour, and many cast members will reprise their roles in Melbourne, including lead actor Joshua Jenkins as Christopher.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Photograph: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

3. It (literally) brought the house down

Back in December 2013 at a performance at London’s historic Apollo Theatre, a section of the ceiling fell down and injured more than 70 of the 700 audience members. After that, the production moved to Gielgud Theatre.

4. Audiences have been blown away by the hi-tech set

A real joy of seeing The Curious Incident is its technically brilliant set, a mathematical grid designed by Bunny Christie, intended to represent the workings of Christopher’s mind. The story plays out in an abstract space, with a grid that takes various configurations to represent maps, cities and even constellations. Time Out London described it as “awe-inspiring”.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Photograph: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

5. The Melbourne season will cater to audience members on the autism spectrum

Haddon’s novel and Stephens’ adaptation have been largely well-received by autism advocates, who have praised their accurate representations of living on the spectrum. The MTC will run a series of ‘relaxed performances’ which will cater to those with sensory sensitivity. Changes will be made to sound and lighting cues, doors will stay open, and there will be a quiet area available.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs from Jan 11-Feb 18, 2018 at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Read more about MTC's 2018 season.

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