The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play)

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (play).jpg
Written by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens
Characters Christopher John Francis Boone (15-year old maths-genius detective);
Ed Boone (Father);
Judy Boone (Mother);
Siobhan (School mentor);
Roger & Eileen Shears (Neighbours);
Mrs Alexander (Neighbour);
Rhodri (Father's employer);
Toby (Christopher's pet rat);
Wellington (Mrs Shears' dead dog)
Date premiered 2 August 2012 (2012-08-02)[1]
Place premiered Royal National Theatre[1]
Original language English
Subject Autism spectrum, Family drama, Crime fiction
Genre Drama
Setting Swindon and London

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a play adapted by Simon Stephens from the novel of the same name by Mark Haddon. During its premiere run, the play tied the record for winning the most Olivier Awards (seven), including Best New Play at the 2013 Awards ceremony.

Susannah Clapp, of The Observer, wrote in 2013, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was one of the most original shows and startling successes at the National last year. It's hard to recall the surprise of this... Yet it at first seemed unlikely that Mark Haddon's novel about a boy with a mathematical gift and 'behavioural problems' could possibly work in the theatre."[2]

Mark Haddon said with some awe, when he beheld the play's success, "We may have a War Horse on our hands."[3]


  • Christopher John Francis Boone: The 15-year-old protagonist, who investigates the murder of Mrs. Shears' large black poodle
  • Ed Boone: Christopher's father, a boiler engineer. Prior to the beginning of the story, he has been living with Christopher as a single parent for two years
  • Judy Boone: Christopher's mother. Early in the book, Christopher writes that she died of a heart attack two years before the book's events
  • Siobhan: Christopher's para-professional and mentor at school. She teaches him how society works and how to behave within its complex guidelines
  • Mr Roger Shears: One of the neighbours who lived near the Boones, but has left his wife before the story begins
  • Mrs Eileen Shears: Mr Shears's wife, who attempts to console Ed for a time after Christopher learns of his mother's death
  • Mrs Alexander: An old lady, who is one of Christopher's neighbours, who offers information to help Christopher's investigation regarding his parents and Mr and Mrs Shears
  • Rhodri: Ed Boone's employee
  • Toby: Christopher's pet rat
  • Wellington: Mrs. Shears' large black poodle, which Christopher finds dead in her garden, with a garden fork sticking out of him.


The play is about a 15-year-old amateur detective named Christopher John Francis Boone who appears to have Asperger's Syndrome,[4] although the condition is never explicitly stated in the play.[5] The titular curious incident is the mystery surrounding the death of a neighbour's dog.[5]

While searching for the murderer of the dog, he encounters resistance from many neighbours, but mostly from his father, Ed Boone. Christopher argues to himself that many rules are made to be broken, so he continues to search for an answer; he compares himself to Sherlock Holmes. When he discovers that his father killed the dog, Christopher fears for his own life and travels to London to find and live with his mother, whom his father had told him had died. He encounters many problems during the journey, but is welcomed by his mother. However, the road to his ambitions leads him back to Swindon, where he wants to pass important maths tests. Everything seems to be an obstacle, but Christopher is eventually reunited with his father and this improves his own future.


West End[edit]

Adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott,[6] it premièred at the Royal National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre on 2 August 2012.[1] It starred Luke Treadaway as Christopher, Nicola Walker as his mother Judy, Paul Ritter as his father Ed, Una Stubbs as Mrs. Alexander and Niamh Cusack as Siobhan.[7] The production, which ran until late October 2012, was broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on Thursday 6 September 2012 through the National Theatre Live programme.[8] The show transferred to the West End Apollo Theatre in March, where it was booking until 25 October 2014.[9]

On 19 December 2013, during a performance, part of the Apollo Theatre's roof collapsed.[10] As a result all performances were cancelled[11] until at least 11 January 2014.[12] On 8 January 2014, it was announced the show would be unable to continue at the Apollo, as the closure of the theatre's balcony, to install a repair deck to allow restoration[13] made the play unviable.[14] The production will now re-open at the nearby Gielgud Theatre, beginning previews on 24 June 2014, with its official opening night on 9 July.[15] During the show's closure period, the production plans on holding free productions for schools.[16]


On 8 January 2014, it was announced the play would open at Ethel Barrymore Theatre,[17] in October 2014.[18] The production will be produced again by the Royal National Theatre[19] and directed by Marianne Elliott.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The nominations for the 2013 Laurence Olivier Awards, which recognise excellence in professional productions staged in London, were announced on 26 March 2013. The production secured the most nominations with eight, including Best New Play, Best Director (Elliott), Best Actor (Treadaway),[21] Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and other categories including Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design and Best Choreographer.[22] The production eventually won seven Olivier awards,[23] thereby equalling Matilda the Musical's record win total in 2012.[24][25]

Other pending award nominations include Critics' Circle Theatre Award, which were most recently awarded in January 2013,[26] Evening Standard Award, which were most recently awarded in November 2012,[27] and Awards, which were most recently announced in November 2012.[28]

West End production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Play Won[23]
Best Director Marianne Elliott Won[23]
Best Actor Luke Treadaway Won[23]
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nicola Walker Won[23]
Best Sound Design Ian Dickinson and Adrian Sutton Won[23]
Best Lighting Design Paule Constable Won[23]
Best Set Design Bunny Christie and Finn Ross Won[23]
Best Theatre Choreographer Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett Nominated[23]

Critical reviews[edit]

Matt Wolf of The New York Times noted that the play's debut was well-timed in relation to the 2012 London Summer Olympics: "its triumphalist spirit tallies exactly with the mood of this summer's athletic aspirations".[5]

Ben Brantley, the chief theatre critic of The New York Times, wrote, "As directed by Marianne Elliott, working with an inspired set of designers, Christopher's maiden voyage into an alien metropolis becomes a virtuoso study in sensory overload. Those lights, noises, street signs, road maps, random words that spell themselves into being, and, oh yes, that moving staircase that materializes out of nowhere: it all keeps coming at you..." Brantley goes on to say that the "extraordinary accomplishment" of the play "is that it forces you to look at the world through Christopher's order-seeking eyes. In doing so you're likely to reconsider the dauntless battle your own mind is always waging against the onslaught of stimuli that is life. Scary, isn't it? Exhilarating too."

However, Brantley found fault with "having Siobhan (Niamh Cusack), Christopher's special education teacher, recite the story he has written, presented as a school project. Ms. Cusack does this with a gushy, artificial sense of wonder that you associate with grown-ups talking to small children... Yuck."[29]

Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph explains Siobhan's role further: "The dramatic conceit is that Christopher's warm-hearted teacher at his special needs school, reads the book he writes about his attempts to solve the mystery of a dog that was brutally killed in a neighbour's garden, and decides to stage it as a play. That may sound cumbersome but it works superbly..."

Like others, Spencer praises Treadaway: "What makes the production even more special is Luke Treadaway's astonishing performance as the 15-year old Christopher. He is unbearably poignant in moments of distress when he kneels with his face on the ground and moans, but also movingly captures the character's courage, his brilliance at mathematics, and his startling perspectives on the world... thanks to Treadaway's pained honesty and twitchy awkwardness, as well as his moments of exultant joy, Christopher Boone feels like both a hero and a friend, though the happy ending is rightly qualified." Spencer also praised Gleason: "There are a host of excellent and often comic supporting performances, with especially fine work from Sean Gleason as the anguished father who loves his son but hurts him terribly, and Niamh Cusack as the kindly teacher."[30]

Lyn Gardner of The Guardian wrote a rave review:

Simon Stephens' clever adaptation of Mark Haddon's bestselling novel about a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome is like a cute dog that leaps up and wants to lick you all over. There's no point in resisting – and there's no need... The beauty of the evening is magnified by Bunny Christie's witty design, in which infinite possibilities and multiplying confusions are represented in squares and numbers... There are times when the show comes perilously close to sentimentality, but the clarity of Christopher's gaze is so unflinching that it often makes you uncomfortable, and the show is equally clear-eyed on the difficulties of parenting, messiness of life, and torment of a child who cannot bear to be touched. The novel gets you inside Christopher's head, but the stage version does more, giving Christopher's internal response to the world an external manifestation. That world is often a surreal and scary place, but oddly beautiful and bizarre, too... Leading a fine cast, Luke Treadaway is superb as Christopher, appealing and painful to watch, like the show itself.[31]

Paul Taylor wrote for The Independent:

Simon Stephens's imaginative adaptation and Marianne Elliott's brilliant production...manage to throw fresh and arresting light on the material while keeping a perfect equipoise between the comedy and the heartache. And I do not see how Luke Treadaway's phenomenal performance could be bettered. He seems to inhabit, with every twitchy atom of his being, this isolated boy whose detective work about a dead dog digs up less categorizable secrets about his parents' marriage and the wider community... He talks in a slightly accusatory and officious blurt as if he knows that his meaning will have to barge through several layers of prejudice to be heard. Even his agitatedly methodical movements are as a mass of straight lines, like his thoughts, as when he perceives with uncluttered immediacy that the word 'metaphor' is itself a metaphor. To hear Treadaway deliver perceptions like [this] with an air of narked, impatient genius is to be reminded that Wittgenstein and Beckett are amongst those who have operated on this spectrum.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". 
  2. ^ Clapp, Susannah (16 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Untold Stories – review". The Observer. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Taylor, Paul (15 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Apollo Theatre, London". The Independent (London). Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ Costa, Maddy (25 July 2012). "A Curious Incident on stage". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  5. ^ a b c Wolf Matt (7 August 2012). "The National Theatre Hits Its Mark". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  6. ^ "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Cast & Creative". 
  7. ^ Geoghegan, Kev (5 August 2012). "National Theatre adapts Mark Haddon's Curious Incident". BBC News Online. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Live Homepage". National Theatre. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". Apollo Theatre. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  10. ^ "London's Apollo Theatre's roof collapses". BBC News. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Apollo Theatre: 'Curious Incident of the Dog' cancels performances". Los Angeles Times. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time Cancels Additional Performances at London's Apollo Theatre". Playbill. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Apollo dismayed as Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time moves house". The Guardian. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ moves home". Time Out. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Shenton, Mark. " 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' Will Move to West End's Gielgud in June; Broadway to Follow", 8 January 2014
  16. ^ "Curious Incident play changes venue after ceiling collapse". BBC News. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Barks Up Broadway Tree". Variety. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "'Curious Incident' to reopen in London, heads for Broadway". USA Today. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "'The Curious Incident of the Dog' coming to Broadway in fall,0,7061899.story#ixzz2pq7GTp7H". Los Angeles Times. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Coming to Broadway in the Fall". New York Times. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Clark, Nick (26 March 2013). "Olivier Awards 2013: Stars of the Silver Screen Helen Mirren, James McAvoy and Rupert Everett in Competition for top theatre gongs". The Independent (London). Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Nominations by Show 2013". Olivier Awards. 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Curious Night at the Oliviers". Olivier Awards. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  24. ^ "Curious Incident wins seven". BBC News. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  25. ^ Pickford, James (28 April 2013). "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time wins seven Oliviers". Financial Times. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  26. ^ Gans, Andrew (15 January 2013). "U.K.'s Critics' Circle Theatre Awards Winners Include Adrian Lester, Simon Russell Beale and Merrily We Roll Along". Playbill. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  27. ^ "Hattie Morahan Wins Best Actress Evening Standard Award for A Doll's House". 25 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  28. ^ "Theatre People Awards". Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  29. ^ Brantley, Ben (March 13, 2013). "Unnerved, Like All of Us, by Life's Strangeness: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in London". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  30. ^ Spencer, Charles (13 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Apollo Theatre, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  31. ^ Gardner, Lyn (13 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – review". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved August 20, 2013. 

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