THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland
23/07/2016 - 14/08/2016
AUCKLAND THEATRE COMPANY TO PRESENT THE WORLD’S FIRST NEW PRODUCTION OF INTERNATIONAL THEATRE PHENOMENON
The Kensington Swan season of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, starring Rima Te Wiata (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Wesley Dowdell (West Side) and Siobhan Marshall (Outrageous Fortune, Dancing with the Stars) opens 21 July at Q Theatre
“My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,507”
Fifteen-year-old Christopher stands beside his neighbour’s dead dog which has been brutally speared with a garden fork. It is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He makes a decision: he’ll record each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington.
Based on Mark Haddon’s popular novel of the same name, British playwright Simon Stephens’ play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a riveting re-imagining of the story of a young lad with an extraordinary brain.
Christopher is brilliant at maths but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He’s never been anywhere on his own, he hates to be touched and he doesn’t trust strangers. But Christopher’s newfound passion for detective work takes him on a frightening and exhilarating journey that turns his world upside-down, as well as the lives of those around him.
The premiere season of The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at London’s National Theatre took UK audiences by storm. It attracted further success when it moved to the West End and then toured to New York, winning major theatre awards in both continents.
Auckland Theatre Company’s Kensington Swan season – the first new production in the world since the National Theatre’s premiere season and tour – has a star-studded line-up which includes Rima Te Wiata (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Book of Everything), Siobhan Marshall (Outrageous Fortune), Wesley Dowdell (West Side, Once on Chunuk Bair), Hera Dunleavy (Rupert, Other Desert Cities), Victoria Abbott (The Holy Roller) and Damien Avery (Rupert, A Doll’s House, Hillary). Tim Earl, who went straight from Toi Whakaari’s Class of 2015 to playing Tom Sawyer for ATC in April this year, takes the lead role.
Alongside a fast-paced storyline, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time uses breathtaking physical theatre and technical brilliance, via projections and graphic designs.
According to the Director, Arts Foundation Laureate Sara Brodie (Nixon in China, Don Giovanni, Tracing Hamlet), “The play is an ingenious adaptation which amplifies Christopher’s personal perspective into dynamic theatrical territory. An ensemble cast plays a multitude of characters, creating the ever-shifting environments he encounters on his detecting journey.
“The text is very true to the original book, maintaining its intimacy. Yet, the technology of the theatre allows us to experience Christopher’s particular worldview visually and viscerally.”
When the novel was published in 2003, it was acclaimed for its appeal to both adults and children, winning awards in both categories including the Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. It has been translated into 44 languages.
Winner of an astounding seven Olivier Awards in the UK, as well as a Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award, and a Tony Award in the US, if Aucklanders and visitors to the city are to have just one theatre experience this year, The Kensington Swan season ofThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time must be it.
The Kensington Swan season ofThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs 21 July to 20 August at Auckland’s Q Theatre.
Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland City
Previews 21 & 22 July 2016
23 July – 14 August, 2016
Tues & Wed, 6.30pm
First produced at the National Theatre’s Cottesloe Theatre, 2 August 2012 in a production which subsequently transferred to the Apollo Theatre, in London’s West End, from 1 March 2013. The production opened on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre, New York on 5 October 2014.
This play is presented with kind permission of Warners Bros. Entertainment.
Rime Te Wiata: Mrs Alexander/Ensemble
Siobhan Marshall: Siobhan
Wesley Dowdell: Ed/Ensemble
Tim Earl: Christopher
Hera Dunleavy: Judy
Damien Avery: Ensemble
Victoria Abbott: Ensemble
Serena Cotton: Ensemble
Sara Brodie: Director
John Verryt: Set Designer
Tim Gruchy: AV Designer
Kirsty Cameron: Costume Designer
Jo Kilgour: Lighting Designer
Thomas Press: Sound Designer
2hr 45 min, incl. interval
Killed the Cat
Review by Matt Baker 02nd Aug 2016
EDITOR: Auckland Theatre Company’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has completely sold out its run at the Q theatre, which is a remarkable achievement for the company. This follows their run of To Kill a Mockingbird at the Civic Theatre earlier in the year, which was their most successful drama, beating the record for their 12 Angry Men set way back in 1998. It bodes well for the opening of the much larger waterfront theatre in October. Nathan Joe reviewed Curious for Theatre Scenes, and I also wrote on it for Metro Magazine. Matt Baker was also moved to record an alternative perspective on ATC’s production. This is an unsolicited review.
Adaptation is the key to survival. When a playwright decides to adapt a literary success, one hopes that it is due to the fact that they see a theatricality inherent in the work that such an adaptation could draw upon and engage with in an original way due to the new medium. Earlier this year, Auckland Theatre Company had a record-breaker in ticket sales with their production of Christopher Sergel’s theatrical adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird (though box office records were not specified as being either numerical or statistical when noting the season’s length and comparing the house size of The Maidment to The Civic). Regardless, financial fortune does not insinuate artistic accomplishment. While Simon Stephens’ stage adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time suffers from the same fundamental problem as To Kill A Mockingbird – that the dramatic narrative structure of literary prose is not the same as the dramatic narrative structure of theatrical plot – Curious compensates by providing theatricality at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Winner of seven Laurence Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards, not one of these was for the script, which remains more or less identical in textual composition to the book, yet six were for production qualities (lighting, set, sound, and projection). [More]
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A Star is Born
Review by Nathan Joe 28th Jul 2016
With Silo’s Medea and the return season of The Book of Everything,2016 has been a good year for young characters on the big stage, proving that the universality of stories is dependent not on subject matter but execution. Adding to the mix is Auckland Theatre Company’s long-awaited production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, based on Mark Haddon’s novel and adapted by Simon Stephens.
The elephant in the room with this production—at least for myself—is that it’s coloured by my previous experience with the NT Live production that was screened in cinemas. But while the two productions share more than a passing similarity, director Sara Brodie does a wonderful job creating a production that more that succeeds own its own merits, even if it invites inevitable comparisons. [More]
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Talented cast deliver humour and heartbreak
Review by Paul Simei-Barton 25th Jul 2016
The murder mystery genre is given an intriguing twist as Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s acclaimed novel draws us into an entirely different way of seeing the world.
The story’s 15-year-old detective suffers from acute Asperger’s syndrome and his weirdly distorted perspective on life proves to be deeply revealing. With a chronic inability to lie, he exposes the hypocrisy and absurdity of everyday life and his wildly discursive intelligence, like a pop-up Wikipedia, supplies an endless stream of fun-facts along with poetic reflections on the structure of the universe. [More]
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Review by Dione Joseph 24th Jul 2016
“My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,507.”
It’s an early and perfect introduction to the world in which we find ourselves on a Saturday night. This is the opening of ATC’s latest production: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Having decided to solve the mystery of who murdered his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, fifteen-year-old Christopher (Tim Earl) embarks upon a journey that takes him from Swindon all the way to London. Along the way he bumps into various characters and is forced to navigate an enormous multi-sensory world – one that is still largely intolerant of difference.
The set is an immediate representation of the highly textured, precise and monochrome lens through which our young protagonist views the world. John Verryt once again shows his immense technical skill in creating a world of almost mathematical precision, his split level cube design and checkerboard layout is both an apt metaphor for our hero’s experience of the world as well as his re-telling of this story.
Adapted by Simon Stephens, this stage production remains faithful to Mark Haddon’s novel, to the point it almost requires some judicious editing. Nevertheless, Sara Brodie’s direction is swift and unrelenting, exposing us to a stream-of-consciousness that is beautifully cradled by both Christopher and his teacher Siobhan (Siobhan Marshall). Having two voices narrate the story varies both the pace and delivery and successfully gives this work a sensitivity and depth that makes the stage production incredibly engaging.
The leads are supported by a multi-talented ensemble with Wesley Dowdell as Christopher’s loving but frustrated father, Ed, and Hera Dunleavy as his mother, Judy, the latter a woman whose honestly reflects the challenges of raising children who think, respond and behave differently to what has been ‘normalised’ by society.
Damien Avery, Rima Te Wiata, Mel Odedra, Victoria Abbott and Peter Hayden also give strong performances, playing numerous characters with skill and deftness. Together the cast create a whirring world that is constantly on the move – a world that changes, evolves, rises and falls to create multiple surfaces for Tim Gruchy’s simple but highly effective AV design.
Occasionally there are a few disparities between the quasi-realistic world of the play and the choices occasionally made (blood on the floor but not on the face) but these are minor quibbles. The lighting also tends to flatten out some of the actor’s facial features; again, these are not major concerns. The production does tend to veer, especially towards the end, towards a somewhat ‘cutesy’ ending but in my experience over the past two years this is most definitely one of ATC’s most successful theatrical productions.
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Editor July 28th, 2016
Here is a link to Dione Joseph's RNZ chat with Jesse Mulligan: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons
John Smythe August 2nd, 2016
Matt Baker writes: “Once Christopher’s father, Ed, simply tells us who the perpetrator of the titular incident is (a moment to which his character arrives out of no immediate conflict or necessity within the scene) …”
I beg to differ [spoiler alert if you have booked and have yet to see the play]. The HUGE issue of Ed’s hiding the letters Christopher’s mother had written to her son has caused Christopher to withdraw completely from his father – so Ed has to do something to regain his trust. This, in the book, is as it plays out on stage:
And Father was silent for a really long time.
Then he said, "Look, maybe I shouldn't say this, but. . . I want you to know that you can trust me. And. . . OK, maybe I don't tell the truth all the time. God knows, I try, Christopher, God knows I do, but. . . Life is difficult, you know. It's bloody hard telling the truth all the time. Sometimes it's impossible. And I want you to know that I'm trying, I really am. And perhaps this is not a very good time to say this, and I know you're not going to like it, but. . . You have to know that I am going to tell you the truth from now on. About everything. Because. . . if you don't tell the truth now, then later on. . . later on it hurts even more. So. . ."
Father rubbed his face with his hands and pulled his chin down with his fingers and stared at the wall. I could see him out of the corner of my eye.
And he said, "I killed Wellington, Christopher."