The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (UK Tour) – Sunderland Review
Joshua Jenkins – Christopher
Geraldine Alexander – Teacher
Stuart Laing – Father
Gina Issac – Mother
Show Date – Tuesday 11th August 2015
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a play based on a book from 2003, but has only been running as a play for two years now. It has taken the West End and Broadway by storm since its release, so I was very pleased to be able to catch it on the UK Tour. It has done what not many shows manage to do and that is to be still running in the West End while having a touring show as well.
So I had heard quite a few things about it and bought the tickets on Boxing day 2014 so it was a pretty long wait for the show to get to Sunderland. A few good thing about it had to be the build up on social media with the outline of the dog being painted in all different places around the city. I thought that was very good marketing and promotion, although I guess a majority of people wouldn’t have a clue what it was all about. But I thought that was a very good touch!
We are told the story through Christopher’s book something that he has been working on to help him with different situations. We see straight away that he struggles socially to interact with other people and certainly does not like being touched, his understanding of different situations is very low and he is very much in his own little world, giving himself tasks and using numbers to help himself cope.
When he find Wellington the dog dead with a garden fork through it this leads him to become a detective and work out who killed the dog. After he is accused due to being found in the garden just after midnight with it. We are given everything in numbers to begin with to really show how not only good Christopher is with numbers but how obsessed he is with them as well. He’s so good at Maths he is going to be the first person in his special school to take an A Level, a couple of years early as well I must add he is still only 15 years old.
The play has no breaks other than the first and second acts, the actors are constantly on stage. If they aren’t involved in that exact moment they are sitting around the back of the rather impressive stage set up (will mention that more a little bit later). It must be a very demanding play to be a part of, as they are constantly going for it, with really does create a fantastic experience I must add.
Joshua Jenkins is in the role of Christopher it what an incredible performance. Extremely engaging and fascinating, due to the characters disability he had a few nervous traits when he was struggle and one of those was a twitch which must be very difficult to actually do when you don’t have it. It has to be one of the best performances I have seen on a stage, you cannot take your eyes off him and some of the dialogue is pretty heavy, he is constantly speaking due to being nervous with people at times.
The key relationship for Christopher is with his father as that who we see him living with, but when he finds something out (don’t want to spoil it) this is about to change and sees an adventure taking place, something we don’t expect Christopher to do alone. Travelling all the way from Swindon to London by train and tube, this creates some visually stunning moments with plenty of lights used in the sequence.
The relationship of his mother is quite a strange one considering Christopher has thought she was dead for two years, his detective work in the house of trying to find his book leads to different revelations and he uncovers some secrets with help from a neighbour. It is a lot for the teenager to take on board and he must deal with so many things at the same time. This strengthens his relationship with his teacher who really does help him a lot, even if it is just listening to his problems.
His parents have obviously struggled a lot to deal with Christopher over the 15 years and realising that he is different to everyone else. He struggles in normal social situations and cannot bare anyone to get too close to him. The only way even his parents can touch him is to put their hand up and have them do the same. That does create some nice moments, but also helps to show when he is not happy at all.
The stage set up while at first does not look like much turns out to be very impressive as it changes and shows different things. It is drawn on along with the floor and things are shown to give it a more visual feel, it changes colours and it really is all go as some of the parts in it contain props to help with scenes. Throughout the first act we see Christopher putting together a train track which has a significant part in the story.
We also get some live animals as well as movement sequences with Christopher being thrown about in the air. It really is a touching story and helps to show that people are all different, with some of them being very different. It has to be doing good things to raise awareness of Autism/Aspergers Syndrome and give people more of an understanding how they just don’t feel comfortable with themselves let alone anything else.
I am very pleased to say that I have now seen this play and truly understand why it has been getting so much praise and well talked about. A success in the West End and on Broadway and now the UK Tour, I really do recommend if you only see one play this year that you certainly pick this one!