The Mayflower, Southampton – until 1 April 2017
I first saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when it was at the Mayflower last year. Winner of 7 Olivier’s and 5 Tony awards on Broadway the bar is set exceptionally high for this show.
Fifteen year old Christopher, stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog (Wellington). It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. Recording each fact in a book, he writes to record solving the mystery of who murdered Wellington. Christopher has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths. Although he is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life having never ventured alone beyond the end of his road. Furthermore he detests being touched and distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.
Scott Reid takes the lead, playing Christopher Boone and is completely and utterly spellbinding in the role. Whilst the book does not make reference to it, Reid’s acting has such depth and understanding of the characterisation of an Asperger Syndrome sufferer it is extremely evident that this is what the play not only eludes to but centres around. It gives an insight into the life and how it affects all. Reid’s illustration of not liking to be touched was consistent and electric. His journey on which he embarked on was brilliantly acted and you really felt like you were accompanying him every step of the way.
Christopher’s father Ed played by David Michaels gave an immensely strong performance. You could feel his heartbreak and day-to-day struggle to do the right thing by his son. And all his intentions whilst misguided at times were heartfelt and sincere and this really came through.
The whole cast were equal and worked as a solid team. Lucianne McEvoy as teacher Siobhan held the piece together with her supporting commentary of reading Christopher’s book. With Emma Beattie as mum Judy you could understand her anxiety and feeling of failure of dealing with her sons issues which again show great strength in her portrayal.
This play by Simon Stephens based on the novel by Mark Haddon is a visionary, innovative piece which on more than one occasion had the audience gasping at its imagination and creativity.
Lighting Designer Paule Constable and Video Designer Finn Ross have both excelled in this production. Movement is captivating and exceptional throughout and particularly in the walking on the walls scene, a great job by Movement Directors Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly. Staging is simple yet truly unique with minimal props and with the combination of superb lighting and sound creates a visual spectacle and a credit to Designer Bunny Christie. Direction by Marianne Elliott is excellent and attention to every detail is exquisite.
If you want to be completely bowled over by something that is so extraordinarily different, moving and innovative then this is most definitely the show for you! So I implore you to get your tickets and visit the Mayflower before it leaves town. For me this type of production epitomises why I fell in love with theatre.