The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Inviting us into an investigation by Christopher Boone, when the dog next door is killed, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens is an amazing story of how one young man’s mind can unravel and process a mystery. Based on the book of the same title by Mark Haddon, the play had a lot to live up to in my eyes as the book has been a favourite of mine since I first read it in 2004.
Christopher is a 15 year old with a very unique outlook on life. Despite there never being a mention that Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome it has been widely accepted that he does. You can see a really interesting review of the book by another young man on the spectrum here. Haddon has stated in interviews that this is because he doesn’t want Christopher to be defined in any particular way. Haddon says “I'm very careful in the book not to actually use the word 'Asperger's' or 'autism.' ... Because I don't want him to be labelled and because, as with most people who have a disability, I don't think it's necessarily the most important thing about him.”
The set used in the play was such a unique take on conveying the emotions of the characters and telling the story through Christopher’s eyes. Light, sound and colour were all used expertly to really drawn the audience into his mind.
The book, written by Christopher as he tries to solve the mystery, is narrated throughout by the very likable teacher Siobhan from his school. Their bond is obvious, and she encourages this young mathematician to excel. We see his interests come to life while he is at school, his penchant for trains being conveyed by the huge train set he builds, which is used to underpin the story.
Without giving too much away, we see Christopher really push the boundaries of his comfort zone on a trip to London, and see how dealing with family relationships, loss, independence and the disorder of life can force us to question the way we really think about things.
Overall I think that Simon Stephens' adaptation of the book was really entertaining, but it missed a key message in that the story isn’t about Christopher but about us.