“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” Review

The Grand Opera House – Belfast

13th – 17th October 2015

(Theatre Royal – Bath, 20th – 31st October; Milton Keynes, 3rd – 7th November; The Lowry – Salford, 17th – 21st November)

The play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” is adapted by Simon Stephens from the bestselling  book by Mark Haddon. The stage play was directed by Marianne Elliott.

The story is a simple but intriguing one: 15 year old Christopher, who describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’ discovers his neighbour’s dog stabbed to death with a garden fork. Initially falling under suspicion for the killing, Christopher decides to investigate the dog’s murder, and his mathematical obsession comes to the fore. The show plays with this obsession in its staging and in its use of technology.

The first impression of the stage curtain opening was one of quite a controlled environment, with not a soul to be seen. Very prominent lighting effects were used, to balance some naturalistic moments, for example a storm and darkness, with some symbolic elements, for example star-signs and tears.  These were well-maintained.  The staging of the show consisted of a black background of squares with white light surrounding it, with boxes resembling laundry baskets in many scenes.

Sounds of actors’ voices stood out as cheerful, confident, despairing, frustrated, solemn, bored and helpful.  In this way, it could be argued that there were concrete reasons for these performances: some from necessity. Adjectives were used to allow the main actor to survey his environment and for others to respond: to describe his behaviour, appease, encourage or reprimand.

The acting was well-thought out and all performances were superb, especially in terms of use of space and body language. What stood out was the discretion used in the craft of speech, perceiving status and attuning to relationships and roles. It did seem, unfortunately, that there was little chemistry between the actors. Their roles seemed dutifully bound. They were, however, animated performances, with lots of shouting and fighting. A lot of reactions seemed to be anticipated by the actors. The performers on stage who were not the main focus of the acting were thinking, conducting their body language and gaze and adapting their facial expression.

The audience’s response was significant with a lot of laughter in parts and whispered comments, such as “he has no sense of humour”, and “he thinks he’s stupid.”

While the mood or atmosphere of the play was solemn and dynamic, this is without doubt a very classy production with the highest production values, a show that will continue to mesmerise audiences with its dazzling effects.

Script ****
Production *****

Kathleen Hoey


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