Distressed by sounds, rattled by colours and has a fear for metaphors. That’s Christopher Boone. A 15 year old boy with ‘behavioural problems’ trying to cope with the chaos of regular life and trawl through the hazards of Swindon Station.
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ is as much dazzling as it is touching and has got to be one of the most ingenious productions ever to run in London’s West End. As cheesy as it sounds, this was a production that truly did ‘exceed expectations’
I must admit I was slightly worried about seeing one of my childhood heroes live on stage especially as Mark Haddon’s 2003 bestseller was lumped in the ‘unstageable’ category. So it was with great trepidation that I approached the grand entrance to the Apollo theatre (now sadly in need of some TLC) and took my seat in the upper circle speculating about whether Luke Treadaway and Marriane Elliot could replicate the success of the award-winning ‘War Horse’.
With the dimming of the house lights and dramatic boom these doubts fled instantly as Bunny Christie’s inventive design instantly portrayed the linear yet magical mind of young Christopher. Train tracks running along the floor, chalk drawings splayed out across the stage, a bombardment of visual effects translated Christopher’s inner complexities to the audience, bringing to life Haddon’s literature. Convincing technical effects ensured a visual feast but this production was not just about magical staircases and flashing lights.
There’s a reason Luke Treadaway won the Olivier Award for his performance as Christopher. His performance was astonishing in its sensitivity, carrying both comic relief and great emotional depth.
Yet we must not forget Simon Stephens here, the playwright who scripted the play from Haddon’s novel. He achieves the impossible here, sticking true to the themes of the book evoking all the sympathy for Christopher and the extent of his father’s frustration.
Now enough of that raving! Following my initial review (abridged above), I returned to the Apollo Theatre, luckily before the cave in, to closely observe the new cast in play. Frankly, I was disappointed. Make no mistake, this is still a fantastic production by a brilliant team but having seen the original cast in action this feels like a stale remake. Indeed a colleague of mine walked out saying “that was good” – and that’s precisely what it was; good but not great. I suppose that’s to be expected with Mike Noble tasked with emulating second for second Treadaway’s performance. Technically and superficially the original is still there but feels as if the shiny gloss has been worn down leaving a somewhat lacklustre result in comparison. Tightly rehearsed and carefully choreographed it continues to wow audiences, but to put it simply, this latest version just lacks the spark that brought the production into the realm of ‘brilliance’.
Did the new cast match up to expectations? Share your thoughts below.
Over and out,