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

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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);
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. The story concerns a mystery surrounding the death of a neighbour's dog that is investigated by young Christopher Boone, who has Asperger's-like issues, and his relationships with his parents and school mentor. During its premiere run, the play tied the record for winning the most Olivier Awards (seven), including Best New Play at the 2013 ceremony.

The play's West End Theatre debut was 2 August 2012 at the Royal National Theatre as Theatre in the round. It transferred to the Apollo Theatre in 2013, but following a roof collapse it closed down. It reopened on 9 July 2014 at the Gielgud Theatre. A Broadway theatre production debuted at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on 5 October 2014. It won the 2015 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Broadway Play and the 2015 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play. A UK touring production is set to begin in late 2014.

The play reworked the source material by changing its voice and presenting the story as a play-within-a-play. The play has received a generally warm reception, with most critics impressed by its ability to convey the point of view of the young protagonist and the compassion of his school mentor. Critics also generally spoke highly of the visual effects employed during the show.


  • Christopher John Francis Boone: The 15-year-old protagonist, who investigates the murder of Mrs. Shears' large dog, Wellington.
  • Mr 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
  • Mrs 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' 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
  • 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 involves a significant reworking of the source material. Rather than present the story in the first-person narrative as the original novel did, the play is presented as a reading of Boone's own writing, read aloud in segments by his teacher.[2][3] The result is that the play is presented as a play-within-a-play.[4]

The play, set in Swindon and London[5] is about a 15-year-old amateur detective named Christopher John Francis Boone who is a math genius. He appears to have an unspecified autism spectrum disorder that is variously described as either autism[6] or Asperger's Syndrome,[7] although the condition is never explicitly stated in the play.[8] The titular curious incident is the mystery surrounding the death of a neighbour's dog found speared by a garden fork.[8]

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, who 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 mathematics tests. Everything seems to be an obstacle, but Christopher is eventually reunited with his father and this improves his own future.


Theatre Opening Date Closing Date Perfs. Details
Royal National Theatre, London 2 August 2012 27 October 2012 ? Premiere production
Apollo Theatre, West End 12 March 2013 19 December 2013 ? West End debut
Gielgud Theatre, West End 9 July 2014 ? West End re-opening
Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway 5 October 2014 ? Broadway debut

West End[edit]

Adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott,[9] the show premièred at the Royal National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre on 2 August 2012.[1] The performance there were played in the round.[10] The production 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.[11] 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.[12] The show transferred to the West End's Apollo Theatre in March.[13] Performances began on 1 March, with an official opening on 12 March. Seán Gleeson and Holly Aird joined the cast as Christopher's parents.[14]

On 19 December 2013, during a performance, part of the Apollo Theatre's roof collapsed, injuring nearly 80 people.[15] As a result all further performances were cancelled[16][17] and a new theatre was sought.[18] The Apollo's balcony required extensive repairs.[19][20] In February 2014, the producers staged 8 free lunchtime performances for audiences from 14 secondary schools at the Stratford Old Town Hall.[10] The production finally re-opened at the nearby Gielgud Theatre, beginning previews on 24 June 2014, with its official opening night on 9 July.[21]


The Show opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on 5 October 2014, after beginning previews on September 10.[22] It is again produced by the Royal National Theatre[23] and directed by Elliott.[24] The Broadway adaptation stars Alex Sharp (in his first professional role ever),[25] Enid Graham, Ian Barford, and Francesca Faridany.[26] In January 2014, the production was announced to have tickets available as far in advance as September 2015.[27]


A touring cast is set to begin at The Lowry in Salford in late 2014.[28] While still running in the West End at the Gielgud and at Broadway's Barrymore Theatre, the 31-city United Kingdom tour began previews at The Lowry from December 18 in advance of an official opening on January 9.[29]

Historical casting[edit]

The following tables show the casts of the principal original productions:

Role Royal National
Apollo Theatre
2013[citation needed]
Ethel Barrymore
UK National
Tour 2015
Christopher Luke Treadaway Graham Butler Alex Sharp (Taylor Trensch at certain performances) Joshua Jenkins (Chris Ashby at certain performances)
Siobhan Niamh Cusack Sarah Woodward Francesca Faridany Geraldine Alexander
Ed Paul Ritter Seán Gleeson Nicolas Tennant Ian Barford Stuart Laing
Judy Nicola Walker Holly Aird Emily Joyce Enid Graham Gina Isaac
Mrs. Shears/Mrs. Gascoyne/Woman on Train/Shopkeeper/Voice One Sophie Duval Victoria Willing Mercedes Herrero Clare Perkins
Roger Shears/Duty Sergeant/Mr. Wise/Man behind Counter/Drunk One/Voice Two Nick Sidi Daniel Casey Richard Hollis Lucas Hare
Mr. Thompson/Policeman 1/Drunk Two/Man with Socks/London Policeman/Voice Three Matthew Barker Paul Stocker Ben Horner Edward Grace
Reverend Peters/Uncle Terry/Station Policeman/Station Guard/Voice Four Howard Ward Tony Turner David Manis John McAndrew
No. 37/Lady in Street/Information/Punk Girl/Voice Five Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty Vivienne Acheampong Jocelyn Bioh Emmanuella Cole
Mrs. Alexander/Posh Woman/Voice Six Una Stubbs Tilly Tremayne Gay Soper Helen Carey Roberta Kerr

Notable replacements at the Apollo included Rakie Ayola as Siobhan, Amanda Drew as Judy and Daniel Casey as Roger Shears.[32]

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), Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and other categories including Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design and Best Choreographer.[33] The production eventually won seven Olivier awards,[34] thereby equalling Matilda the Musical's record win total in 2012.[35][36] The play was also acclaimed with the Best New Play on 17 February 2013 at the Whatsonstage Awards.[37]

West End production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Laurence Olivier Awards[34] Best New Play Won
Best Director Marianne Elliott Won
Best Actor Luke Treadaway Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nicola Walker Won
Best Sound Design Ian Dickinson and Adrian Sutton Won
Best Lighting Design Paule Constable Won
Best Set Design Bunny Christie and Finn Ross Won
Best Theatre Choreographer Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett Nominated

Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Tony Award[38] Best Play Pending
Best Direction of a Play Marianne Elliott Pending
Best Actor in a Play Alex Sharp Pending
Best Lighting Design of a Play Paule Constable Pending
Best Scenic Design of a Play Bunny Christie and Finn Ross Pending
Best Choreography Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett Pending
Drama Desk Award[39] Outstanding Play Pending
Outstanding Actor in a Play Alex Sharp Pending
Outstanding Director of a Play Marianne Elliott Pending
Outstanding Lighting Design Paule Constable Pending
Outstanding Projection Design Finn Ross Pending
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play Ian Dickinson for Autograph Pending
Drama League Award[40] Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play Won
Distinguished Performance Award Alexander Sharp Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award[41] Outstanding New Broadway Play Won
Outstanding Director of a Play Marianne Elliott Won
Outstanding Set Design Bunny Christie Won
Outstanding Lighting Design Paule Constable Won
Outstanding Actor in a Play Alex Sharp Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Francesca Faridany Nominated

Critical response[edit]

West End[edit]

Lyn Gardner of The Guardian wrote a rave review, commenting that "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". ... Leading a fine cast, Luke Treadaway is superb as Christopher, appealing and painful to watch, like the show itself."[9]

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."[42] Paul Taylor of The Independent described the work as an "imaginative adaptation" and "brilliant production" saying that it was presented in a "fresh and arresting light" while balancing humor and tragedy. Taylor judged Treadaway's performance superlative citing, among other things, his rhythm, movements and delivery.[43] Matt Wolf of The New York Times added 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".[8]

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 went 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." Brantley found fault, however, with "having Siobhan ... 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."[44]

Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, thought that Siobhan's turning the book Christopher writes into a play "may sound cumbersome but it works superbly". Like others, Spencer praised Treadaway: "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 and Cusack.[45]


Richard Zoglin of Time described the play as "a demonstration of the power of theater to transport us to exotic places".[2] Steven Suskin, drama critic for The Huffington Post, said the play entertains, illuminates, and brings us to an exalted new place.[46] Adam Green of Vogue says the play is "a testament to the singular power of theater".[4] Brantley, in his review of the New York production, called the work "manipulative", writing that it "retunes the way you see and hear" by forcing you to embrace a heightened sensory perception along with the main protagonist.[6] Elysa Gardner of USA Today described the experience of viewing the play as a journey "inside Christopher's gifted, troubled mind using inventive visual and sonic effects".[47] She lauded Sharp's "movement, expressions and voice making the boy's terrors and his ferocious intelligence seem equally natural".[47]

Peter Marks of The Washington Post praised the visual graphics of the show as being better presented than the "textual and performance elements" noting that the working of Boone's brain upstaged the detective work of finding the killer.[48] Jennifer Farrar of the Associated Press thought the show a "charming, intricately choreographed and dynamic theatrical experience" and that Alex Sharp's presentation of Christopher exemplifies the life skill of overcoming personal challenge.[49]'s Jeremy Gerard felt that the production combines the obsessed math prodigy element of A Beautiful Mind with the mentoring compassion of Billy Elliot.[50] Joe Dziemianowicz of The Daily News found Sharp's performance "dazzling" and "physical and emotionally intense" and praised the design, lighting, music and video displays.[51]

Terry Teachout, drama critic for The Wall Street Journal dissented, describing the "fantastically elaborate video projections" pejoratively, saying that they are smothering. He felt the show was popular because of the trendy nature of Asperger's syndrome and that it was too reliant on trickery.[52] His Wall Street Journal colleague Stefanie Cohen thought the play suffered from difficulty in adapting the book to the stage.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". 
  2. ^ a b Zoglin, Richard (2014-10-06). "Broadway Mind Games: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". Time. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  3. ^ a b Cohen, Stefanie (2014-10-02). "'The Curious Incident of the Dog' Journeys to Broadway: The challenges of bringing the best-selling book to the stage". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  4. ^ a b Green, Adam (2014-10-08). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Makes Its Way to Broadway". Vogue. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  5. ^ Shilling, Jane (2014-07-10). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Gielgud Theatre, review: 'muted'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-04. 
  6. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (5 October 2014). "Plotting the Grid of Sensory Overload: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Opens on Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Costa, Maddy (25 July 2012). "A Curious Incident on stage". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Wolf, Matt (7 August 2012). "The National Theatre Hits Its Mark". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Gardner, Lyn (13 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – review". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Usborne, Simon (5 February 2014). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: The show must go on". The Independent. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Geoghegan, Kev (5 August 2012). "National Theatre adapts Mark Haddon's Curious Incident". BBC News Online. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam (2012-06-13). "National Theatre Live to Broadcast Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Timon of Athens". Playbill. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  13. ^ "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". Apollo Theatre. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Shenton, Mark (1 November 2012). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time to Transfer to West End's Apollo Theatre". Playbill. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Paul, Raven (8 January 2014). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to move from the Apollo to Gielgud Theatre". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Ng, David (20 December 2013). "Apollo Theatre: Curious Incident of the Dog cancels performances". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Hetrick, Adam (30 December 2013). "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time Cancels Additional Performances at London's Apollo Theatre". Playbill. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Curious Incident play changes venue after ceiling collapse". BBC News. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Brown, Mark and Matt Trueman (8 January 2014). "Apollo dismayed as Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time moves house". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ moves home". Time Out. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ "The Verdict: Critics Review The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Broadway". Playbill. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Ng, David (8 January 2014). "'The Curious Incident of the Dog' coming to Broadway in fall". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Healy, Patrick (8 January 2014). "'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ Coming to Broadway in the Fall". New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  25. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (4 September 2014). "Incident of the Actor for the First Time: Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  26. ^ Dziemianowicz, Joe (5 October 2014). "‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,’ theater review: A compelling blend of mystery and self-discovery propels fine adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel, starring Alex Sharp, Francesca Faridany and Enid Graham". Daily News. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  27. ^ "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Tickets Now on Sale Thru Sept. 6". 2015-01-03. Retrieved 2015-01-05. 
  28. ^ "Photo Coverage: New West End Cast Of CURIOUS INCIDENT!". 10 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Shenton, Mark (2014-12-18). "Mark Shenton’s theatre picks: December 18". The Stage. Retrieved 2015-01-05. 
  30. ^ Shenton, Mark. "Casting Announced for West End Return of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time", Playbill, 4 April 2014
  31. ^ "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". Playbill. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  32. ^ Amer, Matthew. "New Curious cast unveiled", OfficalLondonTheatre, 22 July 2013, accessed 14 October 2014
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ a b "Curious Night at the Oliviers". Olivier Awards. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  35. ^ "Curious Incident wins seven". BBC News. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  36. ^ Pickford, James (28 April 2013). "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time wins seven Oliviers". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "Whatsonstage Awards winners announced". 18 February 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  38. ^ Gans, Andrew and Robert Viagas (April 28, 2015). "69th Annual Tony Awards Nominations Announced! Fun Home and American in Paris Lead". Playbill. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  39. ^ Gans, Andrew (April 23, 2015). "Drama Desk Nominations Announced; 'Hamilton' Tops the List". Playbill. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  40. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 15, 2015). "An American in Paris, Curious Incident and Chita Rivera Win Drama League Awards". Playbill. Retrieved May 24, 2015. 
  41. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'Curious Incident' Top Winner at Outer Critics Circle Awards", May 11, 2015
  42. ^ 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 20 August 2013. 
  43. ^ Taylor, Paul (15 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Apollo Theatre, London". The Independent (London). Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  44. ^ Brantley, Ben (13 March 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 20 August 2013. 
  45. ^ Spencer, Charles (13 March 2013). "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Apollo Theatre, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  46. ^ Suskin, Steven (2014-10-05). "Stage Alchemy, Brilliant as Stars". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  47. ^ a b Gardner, Elysa (5 October 2014). "A boy's life, fears transcended in 'Curious Incident'". USA Today. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  48. ^ Marks, Peter (5 October 2014). "Broadway’s bountifully imaginative ‘Curious Incident’". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  49. ^ Farrar, Jennifer (5 October 2014). "Review: B'way's 'The Curious Incident' is dazzling". Associated Press. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  50. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (5 October 2014). "Broadway: Curious Incident a Brilliant Mash-Up of Billy Elliot, Beautiful Mind". Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  51. ^ Dziemianowicz, Joe (2014-10-05). "‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,’ theater review". Daily News. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  52. ^ Teachout, Terry (2014-10-09). "Lost in (Inner) Space". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-10-16. 

External links[edit]