The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at Apollo Theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

Just recently, right after War Horse, I had been thinking whether I might get invited to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Sometimes the universe listens, and lo and behold! The invitation indeed came forth. The striking blue posters since have been popping up all around London, and I was really looking forward to seeing the play.

I read The Curious book sometime in 2008 during a read-a-thon (oh the days when read-a-thon was a manageable size), and I loved it straight away. It is one of those books that I bought multiple copies of, and gave to people. I wondered how people would translate such a unique book into stage play.

First thing that hit me was that the boy playing Christopher was older/bigger than what I imagined him to be when I read the book. He is 15 in the book. I guess boys are pretty grown by that age, so the casting was alright (Christopher played by Luke Treadaway – who also happened to play in War Horse stage). Somehow I imagined him closer to 11-12 years old back then.

In any way he is quite a tricky character to play, because as we know, Christopher is autistic. He has problem with interpreting people’s emotions, understanding behaviours, and generally acting “normal”. It is something that I can relate with, the whole confusion and pressure to be the “normal” — to be the same as everybody else.

The Curous Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

Christopher’s problem also highlights things that we usually take for granted, like interpreting the reaction of human face and body language. It reminds me how complex humans are, and how far away we are from having robots duplicating our ability to read all these millions of tiny, often subtle, signals we send to each other. Christopher excels in math and logic, but he has trouble understanding his fellow human beings.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

The play begins with a dead neighbour’s dog killed by a giant fork, and Christopher is present at the scene of the crime. After convincing everybody that he does not kill the dog, Christopher goes off to try to find the answers to the who and why. Started somewhat lightheartedly, it gets sad pretty quickly, as we learn about the situation at home, featuring a stressed father, and a separated mother.

The stage is very clean and modern, with the shape of a square box. Lights, projectors, and moveable props are used, and there are storage spaces behind the walls and under the floor where they can take things from. It is another unique way of using the stage that I had not seen before.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

The Curous Incident of the Dog in the Night-time on Stage

It was very interesting to see the book brought to live on stage. I encourage you to check out the trailer below also to get more sense of what to expect. Very worth watching if you happen to be in London! And if you do, don’t leave your seat immediately after the show ends, because in a short while Christopher would appear again and do his Math presentation, just like the appendix in the book :).

As another nice touch, notice the seats when you get into the theatre. If you remember, Christopher is fascinated by prime numbers (who doesn’t? I remember being fascinated by them too when I first learned about it!), so they number all the seats in the theatre and mark those ones that are on prime number positions!

(All images taken from The Curious On Stage website)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeI read this book from beginning to end on Sunday during the 24 hour read-a-thon. I think I roughly spent about 8 hours for all 272 pages (yea I’m a slow reader). Funny, I got 3 copies of the book. I got one as a surprise RABCK (Random Act of Bookcrossing Kindness) – free, one from Expo book fair – $4, and one from my favorite used bookshop – $1. I just lent 2 of them to my colleagues.

By finishing this book, I completed 1 challenge, and a step up ahead for 2 others! An important book :)

So the story starts when Christopher, a 15 year old boy with autism finds his neighbor’s dog dies. Everything is written from first person point of view, which makes it interesting, because you get to know the way Christopher sees everything, which is of course, different with normal people.

I’m kinda surprised that it won Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize because in my opinion, it’s nothing close to being kiddie, with the swearing and all (I think they’re good at showing how frustrated the people around him can be). The topic is pretty heavy and even though some people say it’s a funny book, I found it pretty sad.

I like the book. It’s different. I like Christopher and I don’t like him. I could feel his pain and was frustrated about him too. Often, I took pity on him, and it made me think of everybody else in this world who just doesn’t fit into what is considered “normal”.

I laughed seeing his list of Behavioral Problems (that was pointed out by other people, of course) includes Not Smiling. Funny how it’s true. Even a small thing like that.

I love how he uses prime numbers for chapter numbers. That’s the very first thing I noticed when I opened the book. I flipped the book back and forth, confused why it starts from 2, 3, then 5, and so on (It’s explained early on in the book). I remember that in primary school I was also fascinated by prime numbers. Although for me I only memorized prime numbers between 1 to 100.

Pages: 272
Rating: 4 out of 5 [Very good]

2003 Whitbread Book of the Year
2004 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book
2003 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize

First line
It was 7 minutes after midnight.

Last line
And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of Who Killed Wellington? and I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.

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