Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Once upon a time there was a fifteen-year old boy called Christopher Boone, who loved prime numbers and his pet rat Toby, but hated being touched. When one night Christopher finds a dead dog run through with a garden fork, he turns detective and accidentally embarks on an adventure that will open up a world beyond the assorted codes he's constructed to protect himself and change his life forever.

The several million fans of Mark Haddon's novel that inspired this stage adaptation by Simon Stephens may already know the intricately obsessive ins and outs of all this in ways akin to Christopher's whip-smart but socially awkward demeanour. Seeing it brought to life in Marianne Elliot's hit production for the National Theatre, however, is something else again.

The above is framed by having Christopher's teacher Siobhan read out Christopher's story to the class, then having his classmates act it out. Siobhan herself, played here by Geraldine Alexander, becomes a kind of Jiminy Cricket figure to Christopher's pedantically determined savant. More significantly, as Christopher marks out what becomes part domestic thriller, part quest, part cutesie rites of passage, we see it from the inside of his own brain, its barrage of images brought to life by Finn Ross' video projections, Adrian Sutton's twinkly electronic score and choreography by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett.

All of which makes for a delightfully touchy-feely experience beyond the ennui, in which Chris Ashby, one of two Christophers alternating the role, leads the thirteen-strong ensemble with a heroic turn that never does things by numbers, but becomes an education in itself in an infectiously life-affirming display.

The Herald, April 30th 2015

ends

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