Mention The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and many people respond by saying, “Oh is that the book about the kid with autism?”
Well, the story is about 15-year-old Christopher Boone who in fact probably has Asperger Syndrome, though these words are never actually used in the play or the Mark Haddon novel it is based on.
It affects his social skills causing him confusion and major behavioural problems. A simple hug, the colours yellow and brown or a crowded space like a train station or shop can make him feel confused and anxious, resulting in him curling up, covering his ears, making strange noises, or wandering off.
But he loves small spaces, the colour red and is a real maths whizz who is able to sit his A-level three years early and turn detective to find out who killed his neighbour’s dog Wellington with a pitch fork.
So how do you demonstrate this in a play that will still captivate an audience and truly bring such an interesting character alive?
Well Simon Stephens adapts this to the stage brilliantly.
The set is a giant electronic gridded cube which is used to demonstrate Christopher’s thoughts and feelings and really open up his world to the audience.
Christopher uses number patterns to help him feel calmer and these are flashed all over the screen and when a crowded tube station almost paralyses him, he tells himself to imagine a red dotted line on the floor and just follow it, which of course appears on the stage floor.
Joshua Jenkins was sensational in the role, managing to reflect Christopher’s sometimes lonely and stressful world and his thought processes while adding humour throughout.
In fact there were many moments in the play when the audience was laughing.
The production, directed by Marianne Elliott, was funny, clever, gripping and emotional, really drawing on the actors’ skills.
Geraldine Alexander (Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher at his special school and the voice of reason) Stuart Laing (Ed, his dad) and Gina Issac (Judy, his mum) were all exceptional.
They, of course, add another dimension to the play, showing that Curious is not just a story about a teenager suspected of killing a dog, but a moving tale about emotion, families, coping with life and the fact we all have our own behavioural issues, just like Christopher.
After the introduction of an adorable eight week old puppy to the stage, the play ends with Christopher, who has dreams like all of us, asking whether what he has achieved so far in his life means he can achieve anything? The reply was met with a gasp from the audience who leapt to their feet in applause.
Make sure you don’t miss this fantastic production, which is on at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre until Saturday, July 25.
For tickets visit http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time/liverpool-empire,