The River REVIEW

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Phoebe Vigor

Curious Incident Dog Night Time Gielgud London Stage

last December the West End run of ‘The Curious Incident…’ came to an unexpected halt when the ceiling of the Apollo collapsed, but Simon Stephen’s imaginative, award-winning production is back, this time at the Gielgud Theatre.

Neither understated nor over-the-top, Lambeth’s local Graham Butler’s empathetic and poignant portrayal of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, complete with his nuanced quirks, captures the heart as we root for him on his mission to find out who killed the neighbour’s dog ‘Wellington’. Christopher’s startling systematised and logical perception of the world is the basis to this sweet and comical story; a favourite example being when his neighbour tells him that she ‘doesn’t want to look at him right now’, prompting Christopher to immediately reach out and cover her eyes.

Christopher’s view of life can overwhelm him, and his struggles to cope with such an active mind and vivid imagination are wonderfully reflected in Bunny Christie’s brilliant stage design – a monochrome grid projecting diagrams and numbers, among other such things.

Curious Incident Dog Night Time Gielgud London Stage Stairs
It is paramount to the story’s author, Mark Haddon, that we do not just judge Christopher as someone with a disability – in the programme he notes “I regretted the phrase ‘Asperger Syndrome’ appearing on the front cover.” Just like the pollution in London, which Christopher observes, ‘clouds the stars from shining brightly’, judgement and labels limit us from seeing things fully.

We see that Christopher is not alone in having behavioural issues. His parents, who reflect ‘normality’ in the play, are also presented as flawed; his mum Judy (Emily Joyce) abandons him, and his dad’s character, Ed (Nicholas Tennant), is suggested to have abusive tendencies. Haddon notes “I might say that ‘Curious’ is not really about Christopher at all. It is about us all.”

Curious Incident Dog Night Time Gielgud London Stage

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