The acclaimed National Theatre production of Mark Haddon’s bestseller, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, is now touring the country and has just finished its week-long stint at the New Theatre in Oxford.
I am one of the few people left who has not yet read Curious Incident. It is the story of Christopher and his quest to solve the murder of his neighbour’s dog. In doing so, he unravels more than he intended and embarks on a journey that sees him leave his Swindon cul-de-sac alone for the first time.
The play was adapted by Simon Stephens and over the last five years, two million people have taken their seats entering the extraordinary mathematical and science-driven mind of Christopher. In fact, in the story, he takes his maths A Level three years early. In my programme, Mark Haddon writes that he regrets that the words ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ appeared on the front cover when the book was originally published, as these are not words that Christopher would use to describe himself – but simply as someone who has behavioural problems. And what person doesn’t
Shakespeare was fond of a ‘play within a play’, and Christopher’s teacher, Siobhan, suggests adapting Christopher’s murder mystery into a school play. The play is staged in a giant box, which is divided into graph paper like you’d use in a maths exercise book. Through this, we can see all of Christopher’s workings out – as he breaks down complex maths theorems and confusing human behaviours. Did you know that Scott Reid, who plays Christopher, will go through 699 pieces of chalk before the end of the tour?
Scott showed true athleticism throwing his limbs into different shapes and bouncing off the walls to display the extremes of the protagonist’s emotions. Emma Beattie and David Michaels as Christopher’s parents capture the heart-breaking turmoils they face raising their son. Whilst Lucianne McEvoy’s, Siobhan, decked out in white, presents a calming force amongst the high octane sound effects.
Marcus du Sautay, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, sums up the play…
‘For me, the A Level solution that Christopher presents in an appendix to the book is his greatest achievement. Cracking the problem was easy for Christopher. Explaining the solution to the examiner is the real challenge. That A Level solution is the first step on Christopher’s next journey. He writes: “I’m going to university. And then I will get a First Class Honours Degree and I will become a scientist.”
‘It is almost a decade since the publication of Curious and I would like to think Christopher succeed in his dream and is happily ensconced in a mathematics department somewhere in the country probably trying to crack the mystery of the primes. Because, as Christopher’s days: “I can do anything.”
You can catch the tour in Bristol in June; Birmingham in July; and Milton Keynes in September, tickets available on the ATG website here.