This is a bit of a dual review. This weekend, I re-read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon in preparation for attending the National Theatre’s production (Website here) at the Piccadilly Theatre, London. When the Curious Incident (will be used from now on because the title is really long) was first bought to the stage, I was a penniless student and it wasn’t feasible. The production has now returned to the West End for a limited run. I first read the book when I was thirteen, and it has genuinely stayed with me all these years. I think it is an incredible book, and re-reading it has only reaffirmed this. The play is also incredible!
Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Published: 2004 (First published 2003)
Format: Paperback (owned)
The Curious Incident is about a dog being murdered with a pitchfork, and 15-year-old Christopher Boone’s determination to find who killed Wellington (the dog). Along the way, he learns lots of other things as well. Christopher likes maths, and space, and dogs and he doesn’t understand people at all.
The book is narrated in the first person, as a writing project that Christopher does with his teacher Siobhan. Christopher is on the autism spectrum, and he labels his chapters in prime numbers, and interrupts his own narrative to tell and important story with his photographic memory. As the story is in Christopher’s voice it is very matter of fact with lots of precise detail and interspersed with Christopher’s opinion of whether or not he feels the details he has chosen to include are necessary. The stage play transitioned this incredibly unique viewpoint into his teacher, Siobhan, reading sections of Christopher’s “book” aloud, iinterspersing action with story and fact in fascinating story.
I really liked how the stage play interpreted and presented the characters – Siobhan, for example, is mentioned frequently in Chistopher’s narrative almost as his justification for including detail or when he is upset he will recall Siobhan’s advice. She is clearly very important to him and this comes across excellently in the stage production where Siobhan will be on stage or as a voice over whenever Christopher needs her.
I was curious as to how they would represent Christopher’s overstimulation on stage – and it was incredibly well done with lights, technology and sound all jumbling together to confuse the senses.
The book is thoughtful and amusing and stressful all at once, and the stage play not only interpreted the book beautifully, it ran with it and became incredible in its own right. If you get the chance to see the play while it’s still on, I highly recommend you take it! Also, read the book – I feel everyone should read this book. It’s one of those books I feel should be taught in schools to teenagers to show them a different way of looking at the world.