Nicola Harvey and her husband enjoy a ‘stunning’ night out at the Theatre Royal Bath
It’s always a good sign when your theatre companion has seen the play before and is super keen to go again. My husband had raved about Curious Incident after taking a school trip, although was deliberately (and slightly frustratingly!) vague about the details. In the end, this left me intrigued about what lay ahead this evening.
Curious Incident is more of a why dunnit than a whodunit, despite the shocking opening image of the dead dog. This is a non-naturalistic performance that manages to successfully convey the complexity of the world by showing rather than telling.
Christopher, the central character in the play (based on Mark Haddon’s novel), struggles to make sense of the world around him. Science and maths are crystal clear; people and their ways less so. This makes life frightening and unpredictable for him. Although Mark Haddon has always been clear that he hasn’t made any specific diagnosis, it’s easy to see why others have tried to categorise Christopher’s differences.
Scott Reid’s performance as Christopher was deeply moving; he successfully managed to portray Christopher’s vulnerability and single minded determination. I was able to empathise with his fear and anxiety as he was literally thrown around the play.
The story of Christopher and those connected to him unfolds initially through a story he writes at school and his interaction with Siobhan (Lucianne McEvoy), a teacher at his school. The company, Frantic Assembly, communicated the confusion and truth of the relationships between Christopher and those around him with great skill and emotional depth through choreographed movement. We saw the play unfold through Christopher’s eyes; at times we as an audience were distanced from the heightened and exaggerated characters just as he is from the world.
The physical discipline of the ensemble was astonishing; they managed to conjure new locations and characters through sharp changes to their posture and gait. These were combined with apparently effortless choreographed lifts that blended seamlessly into the action. Their interaction with the initially bare stage conjured detailed depictions of various rooms, buildings and even whole cities. Stunning.
This is a production that has been staged in many different sizes and styles of theatre and yet feels as if it were built to fit its current home at the Theatre Royal Bath. This in itself is no mean feat and the technology involved was breath taking. The staging has a clinical edge and the graph paper style of the box set implies that the play will be grounded in logic.
Ultimately, however, the real success of the play was its ability to combine this astonishing design and tech with movement and words to deeply immerse me in Christopher’s story and world and for me to come out the other side with a different perspective on life. The plaudits are well deserved-see this if you possibly can.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until 25 March