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When a performer pees on stage you know you are watching something memorable: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night is certainly a play full of surprises and firsts. I mean I don't think I have ever seen a performer pee on stage, possibly from nerves. And then there was the actor breaking the fourth wall inviting the audience to stay afterwards for the theatrical equivalent of a DVD extra. It was quite a stunning and unique evening at the theatre.

I confess that I was slightly nervous sitting down to watch as the play is adapted from a novel by Mark Haddon and is one of my favourite books and not an obvious choice for the stage. It is the first person narrative of 15-year-old Christopher Boone who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioural problems". 

Christopher (Luke Treadaway) has an exceptional mathematical mind and is extremely logical and likes writing everything down but he has impaired social interaction skills (Asperger's Syndrome). He dislikes being touched, loud noises, metaphors (they are lies) and the colours orange and brown.

At the start of the play, Christopher discovers his neighbour's dog Wellington has been killed with a garden fork and is determined, against his father's wishes, to find out who did it. It is a unique journey that proves more revealing than a simple murder mystery. Christopher's narrative is shared with life-skills tutor and trusted friend Siobhan (Niamh Cusack), who reads from the book he's writing, and a series of re-enacted scenes, some using physical theatre.

Brilliantly adapted by Simon Stephens, the play hangs on the central performance and Treadaway is superb giving both a great physical and vocal portrayal full of ticks and awkwardness that beautifully illustrate Christopher's feeling of discomfort with the illogical outside world.

It is cleverly staged too. The performance space is a pit like rectangle with the audience seated on four sides, similar to Our Class. The flooring also doubles as a chalkboard and is at times cleverly lit with illustrations as if the workings of Christopher's mind have been brought to life. 

There is so much to enjoy about the play from the performances, to the many theatrical devices, lighting and almost dance-like sequences. And not least the story which is funny and warm, gripping, tense and moving.

And then, of course, there is the peeing incident. *spoiler alert* Having seen a baby on stage, in A Doll's House, just a few weeks ago I didn't think anything could illicit such an audible reaction from the audience. That was until Christopher's Dad (Paul Ritter) gives him a large cardboard box containing a gift. Christopher opens the box and out pops a real life puppy. Naturally, there was the biggest 'ahhh' from the audience shortly followed by roars of laughter (including a few chuckles from the cast) when the puppy took the first opportunity to squat and have a pee - nervous performer obviously.

Even puppy aside (I'm a sucker for cute dogs), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is going to be a tough one to beat for play of the year. Poly and I have already booked to see it again next week thanks entirely to @jongilmartin1

Not surprisingly I am giving it five stars. If you can get a ticket go and don't rush off the moment the cast has left the stage as there is that extra bit that is worth seeing, indeed the cast and crew popped out to watch it - Niamh Cusack and Nicola Walker squeezing past Poly and me to grab a couple of vacant seats. It runs in rep at the Cottesloe until October 27. You can view more production pictures by Manuel Harden here

You can read Poly's review here.

Edit 16/12/18: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has returned to the West End's Piccadilly Theatre where it is booking until April 27.  The staging is different in the West End but the production is just as superb - this is my review when I saw it during its first transfer.

Curious incident dog in night-time poster


Lots of second-degree connections but two of my favourites are Luke Treadaway was in Philip Ridley's film Heartless and Mr W has been in two of his plays: Mercury Fur and Leaves of Glass. And then there is the lovely Una Stubbs who of course worked on Sherlock with Andrew Scott and he was, of course, in Cock and The Hour.