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Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford


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I have to admit I knew very little about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time until my daughter, 12 at the time, encouraged me to read it about a year ago.

A rather strange title for a book, I thought, and if it's a novel children are reading the content probably won't be too challenging. How wrong I was.

David Breeds (Christopher) and the company of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
David Breeds (Christopher) and the company of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

15-year-old Christopher Boone has autism and his life is turned upside down after discovering the neighbour’s dead dog. He sets off on a journey that sees him step outside of his comfort zone and explore the world on his terms.

I was gripped. An absolute page turner and I genuinely didn't want the story to end.

Having enjoyed Mark Haddon's words on the page, and the characters they had created in my head, I was a little apprehensive about seeing it brought to life on stage.

I needn't have been.

The production is set inside what can only be described as a giant cube - not too dissimilar to the famous one on the TV game show in all honesty.

It's impressive looking, but on first impressions a little bland perhaps.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is on at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is on at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

That is until a switch is flicked and hundreds of lights and projections come into play. One minute the space is Christopher's classroom, the next it's his street and later a London underground station.

Lights are used to create the effect of rainfall and there's an incredible sequence where Christopher imagines being an astronaut exploring space.

The cube also represents how Christopher is feeling in his head when becoming overwhelmed by people and situations - strobe lighting, flashes and loud noise followed by moments of complete darkness and silence.

Cleverly hidden away are a multitude of storage areas from which dozens of props are produced and neatly packed away.

I haven't seen anything like it before and loved the use of mime and imagery in the absence of walls, doors and stairs.

On to the cast, and David Breeds' portrayal of Christopher was just outstanding.

Christopher Boone and his world is brought to life at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
Christopher Boone and his world is brought to life at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Picture: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

I won't deny his performance made me shed a tear, along with laugh and cheer in equal measure.

He perfectly captured the relationships Christopher has with his father, teacher, neighbours and strangers - and gave a real insight into how someone like Christopher would see the world very differently.

Praise also to Rebecca Root (Siobhan), Tom Peters (Ed) and Sophie Stone (Judy) for equally compelling performances within a diverse cast striving to promote inclusivity.

Just like with the book, I didn't want the story to end and all of the cast thoroughly deserved the standing ovation they received.

We certainly left the theatre with very smiley faces (a book reference for those who've read it).

A little word of warning, if you're planning on taking younger children (under 11s) and haven't read the novel, there is some rather strong language - in fact, from the second word - so sensitive ears might be in for a bit of a shock.

The show is around two and a half hours and worth every single second. Without wanting to spoil anything, all I'd say is don't leave the auditorium too soon.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford until Saturday, May 14.

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