(Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg)
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time (UK Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Being someone who spends a lot of the time doing theatre, and whose friendship group consists of a large number of people who do the same, I’d been told on several different occasions by multiple people that if I ever got the opportunity, I should go and see Curious Incident. It was a story I knew very little about, having never read the book, and the main things I did know was that it followed an autistic teenager, and that, according to a friend, it was a techie’s dream.
Well, she wasn’t wrong.
I was lucky enough to catch this show on its opening night in Belfast, and from the moment I walked in, I was automatically awed by the set alone. Essentially turning the stage into a cube, the walls and floor were divided up into a grid pattern, not unalike one used for constructing graphs, and in the centre, the titular dog, Wellington, lying impaled with a garden fork. At first, I admit, I was confused as to the apparent lack of entrances, but this was soon cleared up when the show started, and it was revealed that the walls contained doors, cupboards and at one point even a desk that slotted easily within, something which earned noises of surprise from many audience members, including myself.
From the moment the show began, the audience was captivated and it wasn’t hard to realise why. The entire thing was absolutely enthralling; from the way many of the cast remained on stage seated at the sides and back (which did nothing to take away from the performance, something which can easily occur) to the fantastic use of lighting, sound and projection to help us understand the mind of main character Christopher Boone.
A mention has to go to Scott Reid, who played the role of Christopher on the night in question, for bringing the character to life so amazingly. He was entirely convincing, and you never doubted at any point that he was fifteen year old Christopher, who couldn’t tell a lie and who hated being touched. His scene where he travelled from Swindon to London was especially amazing, and one that had the entire audience on the edge of their seats as his superb performance combined with incredible lighting and sound to make it seem like we were actually travelling with him, and understanding all of his issues along the way.
Special mentions must also go to Lucianne McEvoy and David Michaels, who played the roles of Christopher’s teacher Siobhan, and his father Ed respectively. Lucianne McEvoy’s character also worked as a kind of narrator, helping to guide the show along and help the audience make sense of its fast pace, while also serving as a reassurance and a guide for Christopher himself in his times of stress. Meanwhile David Michaels played excellently the part of a stressed father sometimes struggling to cope with his son’s condition, but still desperately trying to look after him as best as possible. Particularly poignant was the relationship between him and Christopher, particularly in the scene where Christopher has found the hidden letters from his mother. Safe to say, their beginnings at reconciliation towards the end of the play touched many hearts in the audience.
Doubtless though, one of the most touching moments in the entire show was towards the end, when Christopher’s father presented him with a gift to replace his beloved rat Toby who had died- a little golden retriever pup that had everyone in the theatre cooing in delight.
Being a techie myself, I have to mention the tech. It was absolutely flawless, incredibly imaginative and must have taken a hell of a long time to programme but it was phenomenal. LEDs, movers, and eight projectors meant that each separate location was easily distinguished and allowed us to see the inner workings of Christopher’s mind, from when he was doing his detective work, to him finding his way to London, and particularly his narrow miss with a tube train while rescuing Toby, which made multiple people, myself included, hold their breath until he was safe. I particularly loved the construction of a train set throughout the first act which then actually ran, alongside Christopher’s post show explanation of how he solved his favourite problem on his maths A-Level, utilizing all of the tech provided, which was exciting and entertaining and all together a perfect way to end the show.
Overall, I can say that this show was one of the best bits of theatre I have ever seen. It was incredibly imaginative, funny in moments while poignant and heartbreaking in others, and I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to go and see it. This isn’t one to miss.