The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Date 6th February 2024
Society Ashton Hayes Theatre Club
Venue Tarvin Community Centre
Type of Production Play
Director Yvette Owen
Sound Andy Walker
Technical Director Ian David
Producer Yvette Owen
Written By Marfk Haddon/ adapted by Simon Stevens

Report

Author: Joanne Rymer

The Curious incident of the dog in the night time

Ashton Hayes

6/02/24

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a story concerning Christopher Boone, a mathematical genius with an autism spectrum disorder, although his condition is never specified in the play. He also as a pet rat named ‘Toby’. When 15-year-old Christopher discovers his friend and neighbour Mrs Shears’s dog Wellington dead on her lawn, killed with a garden fork, most people have just one question to ask: Why did you kill it?  Christopher is determined to find Wellingtons killer, so he embarks on an investigation à la his hero Sherlock Holmes to solve the case, recording each fact in the book he is writing of the crime. The police robustly question Christopher at the scene of the crime. Christopher instinctively hits the policeman, who then take Chrisopher into custody. Latterly releasing Christopher with a stern caution, on the condition that he promises to them and to his father not to look into the murder any further.  Christopher still pursues his quest for justice for Wellington, taking him on a journey outside of his life in Swindon and unravels unexpected truths about his family.

The minimal functional two-level set is impressive, and incredibly interactive. Excellent imaginative sound and lighting, identifying the different moods within the play, capturing Christophers manic episodes and his vulnerability, extremely effectively. Director Yvette Owen enables Christopher throughout the play to cover the set with assorted props, chalk for his drawings on the floor, letters from his estranged mother (who his father told him was dead) angrily strewn everywhere. Praise to Yvette for perfectly drawing the audience into the set, almost as if it was a character itself.

Christopher's story is wonderfully narrated throughout by David Lee and Jo Ridgley. Generally, the narration for this play is teacher/therapist Siobhan, Yvette's decision to have two gave additional depth and flexibility to the changing dynamics of Christophers journey. Fine performances.

As he tries to figure out this mystery, other aspects of his life are put under scrutiny, he is determined to take A level maths, which has never been done at his school. His teacher Siobhan supports him and promises to help it happen. A second promise is made to the audience in the final scenes as Christopher is sitting an exam.  

Christopher is quite a hard character to describe you may not like his abrupt, slightly ‘irrational’ personality'. Although he is a lovable character, he can be quite frustrating. Tom is exceptional as Christopher, capturing his mannerisms of his anxiety and his nervous body movements made me believe he was fifteen. He captured the balance of Christopher’s manic episodes and his vulnerability, and I loved every moment of his performance. An exceptional performance from an extremely talented young man. Congratulations, Tom.

 

This productions cast bring a lively and supportive presence throughout, playing the adults in Christophers life, who try to help him and offer love, sometimes struggling, but always trying. Christopher's mother, Judy (Nicola Holland) and his stoic father, Ed (Jac Wardle). Both parents struggled with Christophers condition, Judy left with neighbour Mr Shears leaving Ed a single parent.  A vital guiding force helping Christopher navigate the world is Siobhan, his teacher/therapist, played by (Nita Lawson) who provides a warm and nurturing safety net for an increasingly unsettled young boy. Roger Shears (Simon Jones) lacks understanding of Christopher's behaviour. Mrs Alexander (Christine Tickell)  a neighbour Christopher meets on his investigation;unfortunately telling him of his mothers affair with Mr Shears. Ensemble cast Kathryn Cooke, Tina Wyatt, John Booth and the multi-talented Steve Lincoln, give great performances throughout and not forgetting the Dog. 

Having read the book I was not sure how it would translate to the stage, I was not disappointed. It is clear that everyone involved in this production cares about this play. It’s a show full of heart, warmth, funny, sad and educational. It is one of those magical theatre pieces that say important things very simply.

 

Thank you, Ashton Hayes for inviting me. It was a performance I will remember with great affection and admiration. I wish Tom Campbell every good wish for his future in theatre he was amazing.

 

 

Joanne Rymer

NODA

District 4