Arts Club Theatre Company
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens

Dates and Venue September 6 – October 7, 2018, Tue – Thur at 7:30pm, Fri & Sat at 8pm, Wed at 1:30pm, and Sat & Sun at 2pm (relaxed perf. on Sun, Sept 30 at 7pm) | Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Director Ashlie Corcoran Assistant Director Thomas Alderson Lighting Designer Itai Erdal Set & Costume Design Drew Facey Sound Design Patrick Pennefather Movement Director Kayla Dunbar Stage Manager Caryn Fehr

Reviewer John Jane

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is Simon Stephens’ theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel whose protagonist is Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy who lives with his father in Swindon, Wiltshire. While never directly referred to during the play, Christopher certainly exhibits classic behavior of someone with an autism spectrum condition. He cannot bear to have anyone touch him, nor is he able to absorb change in routine. He hasn’t developed the capacity to wilfully lie, so everything he says is truthful, sometimes to the point of rudeness.

The lengthy, though hardly descriptive of the storyline, title is borrowed from a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle about super sleuth Sherlock Holmes; a character that Christopher personally identifies with when he conducts an investigation over who killed a neighbour’s dog.

Stephens’ stage version is, in general, faithful to the original. To the extent that it employs a theatrical aid that has some of the characters verbalising Christopher’s thought process in keeping with the first person narrative in the novel. Another device (a gimmick, really) is that actors remain visible on stage, even though their character has no direct part in the action. To be fair, both these techniques work well and help the audience tune in on the protagonist’s wavelength.

On stage for the entire show, Daniel Doheny turns in an absolutely inspired performance as Christopher Boone. His post-show trigonometry class on its own is worth taking in the show. In some respects can be likened to Freddie Highmore’s work as a medical professional with savant syndrome in the television series, The Good Doctor.

Other actors in the main roles also deserve high praise for stellar performances. Ghazal Azarbad is appropriately supportive as Christopher’s special needs educator Siobhan. Veteran actors Jennifer Copping and Todd Thomson are both excellent as Christopher’s ‘out of their depth’ parents. Although, someone might have mentioned to Mr. Thomson that you shouldn’t yell at a child with autism. Laara Sadiq is notably versatile as Mrs. Shears and multiple other roles.

Newly appointed artistic director Ashlie Corcoran brings style and savvy to the show’s direction. It looks like Bill Millerd’s legacy is in capable hands. Drew Facey’s galactic themed set aided by Itai Erdal’s esthetic lighting is in consonance with Christopher’s fascination with space travel and science. Facey is also responsible for clothing, who presumably insisted on the entire company wearing sport shoes (sneakers). Kayla Dunbar’s stylish and seamless group choreography gives the production an extra layer of quality.

Perhaps Curious Incident is less to do with autism than it is about being an outsider, and about seeing the world with an alternative and revealing perspective.

© 2018 John Jane