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 Mike Noble’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 Noble, or rather Christopher who leaves the theatre with you.
VERDICT: Whilst a film is never as good as the book, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ proves that theatre can be. Plus there’s a real puppy and a rat (on stage – I’m not implying the Apollo is rodent riddled).
Watch the trailer here:
Book your tickets here: http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time/
And here’s a nice little interview with Mike Noble from http://www.officialtheatre.com:
All images were kindly provided by the editor of www.officialtheatre.com.