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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Published on Monday, 27 August 2012
4

4 stars

Paradise in Augustine's (venue website)
Theatre
21-25 Aug, 3:50pm-4:50pm
Reviewed by Allison Mckeon

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

It feels improbable given the deceit, death, and murdered pets which make up a lot of the story, but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is absolutely lovely. The stage production of Mark Haddon’s popular novel follows autistic math-whiz Christopher John Francis Boone as he tries to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog, thwarting his father and uncovering secrets about his own life along the way.

The show has a pretty straightforward take on the story, without any significant deviations from the plot or alterations to the characters. What it lacks in radical change it makes up for with innovative use of physical theatre and props – and the fact it stays close to the original narrative of course means it preserves the warm core, what is best described as ‘heart’, that the story has.

Books where the protagonist has a lot of inward personality but struggles in his environment can be tricky to transcribe to the stage. The actor can recite his parts of dialogues, but can’t very well also read aloud the inner narration so important to the written character. The show tackles this very cleverly by casting a separate, subtly all-black-clad actor as the voice of Christopher Boone’s thoughts – following him around, addressing the audience, and fleshing out his character just as fully as the book does. The show also uses a gaggle of unnamed actors to crowd Christopher, giving the audience a sense of his need for personal space and maneuvering props to demonstrate his ideas. It’s incredibly creative, surprisingly coherent, and the dialogue is snappy; it seems very well thought-through meticulously rehearsed.

The only real problem with the show could’ve been fixed with the turn of a dial; the music was way too loud and made the dialogue pretty difficult to hear. Also, whoever picked the music apparently has a singular soft spot for OC-soundtrack staple Imogen Heap (upon which I won’t comment). However it’s fast-paced, engaging, and wonderful in the way that stories about plucky and ultimately successful children are. Definitely worth seeing!

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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