I remember the first time I heard that a stage adaptation of one of my favourite books, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (or ‘Curious Incident’ for short) by Mark Haddon, was in the works. It was 4 years ago in May, to be exact, and the show was set to open that August. I was at uni with very minimal funds, so getting to the theatre wasn’t easy, but ever since then it’s been right at the top of my theatre wish list.
I read the book when I was younger and completely fell in love with it. So much so, in fact, that the pages all fell out and I had to throw my copy away! I’m always a little apprehensive when something I love is being adapted, but – with the show having won 7 Oliviers and 5 Tony Awards – I was pretty sure it was going to be amazing. And how right I was!
I was surprised with a weekend away to London and tickets to see Curious Incident by my lovely girlfriend Helen, after having a pretty stressful week and just needing some time to ourselves. We stayed in the Z hotel near Victoria station which was ridiculously cute – the staff were all lovely, the bed was so comfy, and most importantly there was a free cheese and wine buffet. A FREE BLOODY CHEESE AND WINE BUFFET. I was in my element! We decided to avoid public transport completely and walk everywhere all weekend, which I highly recommend. It’s much less effort than you’d expect, and we got to see so many little bits of London that we’d have missed otherwise!
After a morning of wandering, we went to the Saturday matinee showing. I was immediately taken by the fascinating set design – a giant 3D cube marked with coordinates and equipped with changing LED lights, which would later serve as an interactive chalkboard, train station set, a map of London, the night sky, 3D staircase, prop-passer-througher (the technical term, I’m sure) and so many other things. The story is based very much around the human mind, and it was so clever how the stage itself seemed to embody this – with its many functions and processes.
Christopher, the story’s protagonist, has autism, and I was very impressed with the way this was portrayed both accurately and sensitively by Thomas Dennis, who is actually the role’s understudy. In fact, all of the acting was phenomenal, and the show gave a fantastic insight into the psychological conditions like autism. The minimalism and immersiveness let you truly empathise with Christopher’s thought processes, and offered an interesting perspective on how our brains function. What I really enjoyed was how it kept exactly to the book’s narrative, with most of the dialogue lifted straight from its pages. It was exactly what I, as a huge fan of the story, was hoping for!
We finished our weekend with an amazing Thai curry, some violet & pistachio macaroons, and one final walk through London. I had the best time, and it’s made me realise how much I love the theatre. Obviously I hadn’t forgotten (I listen to musicals soundtracks every day – there’s nothing like a bit of Les Miserables to add a touch of drama to your commute!), but I’ll definitely be making more time to actually get to see shows from now on. It was just the loveliest way to spend a Saturday.
Have you seen or read Curious Incident? Did you love it as much as I did?