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Review: Kim Cattrall and Seth Numrich in Sweet Bird of Youth at the Old Vic

Re-review: Curious Incident of The Dog In the Night-time - in the West End, with Johnny Gibbon as Christopher

CuriousIncidentApollo2013Have been curious about Curious being performed on a traditional proscenium arch, West End-stage ever since it transferred in March. The original production at the National Theatre's Cottesloe had the audience on four sides, in seating raked from stage level.

I'd heard good things about the transfer but the second hook was to see understudy Johnny Gibbon step into Luke Treadaway's Olivier Award-winning shoes and play Christopher. It is something he's been doing every Monday and matinees since the transfer.

I saw Curious twice at the Cottesloe and it was my favourite play of last year and having seen it again this week it hasn't lost any of its charm.

The story of Asperger's sufferer Christopher and his quest to find out who killed Wellington, his neighbour's dog, is still as affecting as it was the first time I saw it. It is funny and moving and it is a testament to Johnny Gibbon's performance that he brought tears to my eyes in just the same scenes as Luke. 

There is one particular moment when Christopher's dad has just lost his temper with his son and Gibbon, without saying anything, just aches with innocent confusion and shock.

Once again you are sucked into the Christopher view of the world. A world where anything other than plain language is a lie, where loud noise and lots of people are stressful and method, logic and maths are calming.

Naturally, the staging has been adapted to fit the different stage and there are some advantages, for example, the escalator scene is recreated on the back wall with projections and steps which appear from the wall rather than being a more 2D representation on the floor as it was done at the Cottesloe.

Some of Christopher's chalk drawings on the floor are also recreated with graphic and lighting trickery on the back wall.

But there are also some disadvantages. From the front row day seats you can't see the floor of the stage and so miss certain lighting effects and things like the train track that Christopher builds during the first half. You are warned when you buy the ticket and as I've seen the play before and had only paid £12 I didn't mind too much. However, I'd be curious to know how far back in the stalls you have to sit in order to see the floor of the stage. If you are paying full whack for tickets I'd check.

Johnny Gibbon gives a terrific performance especially considering this is his stage debut but his accent was a little off at times. Christopher's dad has quite a strong West Country accent and most of the time Gibbon sounded a little too posh. If he could just file down the edges of that I think he'd be perfect.

Curious Incident is a joy to watch and no doubt will be a play I'll periodically come back to as it's bound to have a long run. Once again I left the theatre with playful spring in my step, just like Christopher's puppy Sandy.

You can see Johnny or Luke playing Christopher until the end of the month after which a new cast takes over.


Holly Aird who plays Christopher's mum was in Page Eight which also starred Ralph Fiennes who was Skyfall (one of three that made up what Sam Mendes called the Hamlet scene because they'd all played Hamlet on stage the others being Mr W and Rory Kinnear)