The National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book, visits Bath for the first time appearing at the Theatre Royal from Tuesday 20th to Saturday 31st October.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time received seven Olivier Awards in 2013, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. The New York production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was the recipient of five prestigious Tony Awards, including Best New Play. It continues to play in the West End and on Broadway, as well as visiting Bath on its first ever nationwide tour.
The show tells the story of fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, who has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road; he detests being touched and distrusts strangers. When Christopher falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, he tries to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington, recording each fact in a book. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a journey that upturns his world.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is directed by Marianne Elliott, who co-directed the National Theatre’s record-breaking production of War Horse. The central role of Christopher is played by Joshua Jenkins with Geraldine Alexander as his teacher Siobhan and Stuart Laing as his father, Ed.
Talking about adapting Mark Haddon’s novel for the stage, Playwright Simon Stephens said:
‘It was a really joyful experience. I knew two things in adapting the play. I knew that the key to it was the relationship between Christopher and his teacher. Although it’s not that central in the novel, what struck me was that everybody in life has a favourite teacher. Even people who hated school, even people who found school a miserable experience, had one teacher who they loved more than others and thought got them in a way that other teachers didn’t. I knew that if I could get that relationship right, then we could create an evening in the theatre that people could recognise themselves in.
The other thing that I knew was that Marianne Elliott had to direct it. I think she’s a visionary director, I think she’s a director of extraordinary imagination, but she’s also a very democratic director. This can’t be a piece of theatre that alienates people. It has to be a piece of theatre that you can come to if you’re 10 years old or if you’re 90 years old. It needs to appeal to people that have very high art taste in theatre, but also it’s got to be a family night out, and I thought that Marianne could release that really beautifully and really perfectly. Everybody working on it, the entire creative team, were united in wanting to tell Christopher’s story as honestly and properly as possible.’
‘All I ever wanted to do was to make Mark Haddon happy. He came to see rehearsals and the previews and the show at the National and in the West End and Broadway and he fell back in love with Curious Incident all over again. That makes me as proud as anything.’
Author Mark Haddon himself added: ‘When I wrote Curious Incident I was absolutely convinced that it couldn’t be adapted for film or stage. The novel is one person’s very insulated and sometimes profoundly mistaken view of the world. We’re stuck inside Christopher’s head from cover to cover.
‘We see the world the way he sees the world. And there’s the problem. Or so it seemed to me. Theatre is radically third person. You can infer what people are thinking but you can do so only from what they say and what they do. I simply couldn’t imagine how Christopher’s story could be told with any integrity in this way. Simon’s genius was to recognise that I was completely and utterly wrong.’
Joshua Jenkins makes his National Theatre debut as Christopher. His previous theatre credits include Dunsinane for the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre of Scotland, which toured to the Theatre Royal Bath in 2013. His television work includes Holby City, Baker Boys, Doctors, Garrow’s Law, Heartbeat and Belonging.
Geraldine Alexander’s television credits range from Father Brown and Doctors to Shetland and the original series of Taggart. She has performed in the West End, at the National Theatre and for the RSC. She was recently seen at the Globe Theatre as Eleanor of Aquitaine in Holy Warriors. Her previous Bath performances include The Welsh Boy at the Ustinov Studio in 2012; and in the Main House, The Holy Terror in 2004, The Real Thing in 2001, and Sweet Bird of Youth in 1985.
Stuart Laing’s theatre work includes Season’s Greetings at Liverpool Playhouse, A Streetcar Named Desire at Theatr Clwyd, and Blowing Whistles in the West End. His numerous television credits include Silent Witness, EastEnders, Inspector Lynley, Vincent, Wire in the Blood, Spooks, Murphy’s Law, Cambridge Spies, In a Land of Plenty, Berkeley Square and Kavanagh QC.
Gina Isaac appears as Judy. Her stage credits include The Butterfly Lion on UK tour and The Grapes of Wrath for Chichester Festival Theatre. She has performed at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre many times, most recently playing Brenda in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Her television work includes Ricky Gervais’ Derek, Holby City and The Bill.
Clare Perkins plays Mrs Shears. Her film roles include Linda in Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies and Jill in Ken Loach’s Ladybird Ladybird. On television, she has recently played Ava in EastEnders, Simone in Holby City, and Denise in Family Affairs. Her stage work includes performing with the National Theatre, Royal Court, Shared Experience, Almeida and Tricycle Theatre.
Roberta Kerr appears as Mrs Alexander. She played the role of Wendy Crozier, Ken Barlow’s love interest in Coronation Street in 1990, a role she returned to in 2012. Her television credits also include Downton Abbey, Silk, Emmerdale and Brookside; and stage work includes A Doll’s House at The Lowry in Salford.
Lucas Hare, who plays Roger Shears, was seen in Broadchurch at the start of this year. His other television and film work includes Law and Order UK, EastEnders and Die Another Day. He has performed at the National Theatre on a number of occasions, including in Season’s Greetings, directed by Marianne Elliott. He last performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in Spider’s Web in 2009.
Chris Ashby plays alternate Christopher. His television credits include New Tricks, Skins, Holby City and Doc Martin. His theatre work includes Tom’s Midnight Garden for Birmingham Stage Company and The Conquest of the South Pole at the Arcola and Rose Theatre Kingston.
The cast is completed by Emmanuella Cole as Punk Girl, Edward Grace as Mr Thompson, John McAndrew as Reverend Peters with Kieran Garland, Ann Marcuson, Paul Sockett and Jessica Williams in the ensemble.
Marianne Elliott is an Associate Director of the National Theatre where her productions have included War Horse (co-directed with Tom Morris), The Light Princess, Port, Season’s Greetings, All’s Well that Ends Well, Harper Regan, Saint Joan (Olivier Award for Best Revival, South Bank Show Award for Theatre), and Pillars of the Community (Evening Standard Award: Best Director). Marianne was consultant director on The Elephantom for the National Theatre and also recently directed Sweet Bird of Youth for the Old Vic with Kim Cattrall. She is currently directing Husbands and Sons starring Anne-Marie Duff at the National’s Dorfman Theatre.
Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was published in 2003. It was the winner of more than 17 literary awards, including prizes in Japan, Holland and Italy as well as the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in the UK in 2004, and was translated into 44 languages. A Spot of Bother, published in 2006, was also an international bestseller. As well as writing fiction, Mark Haddon’s first work for the theatre, Polar Bears, was produced by the Donmar Warehouse in 2010. He has written 15 books for children, published a first collection of poetry in 2005 and is an illustrator and award-winning screenwriter. The Red House is Mark Haddon’s latest novel.
Simon Stephens’ play Birdland recently ran at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Blindsided premiered at Manchester’s Royal Exchange earlier this year. His play Port (originally produced at the Royal Exchange and also directed by Marianne Elliott) was revived at the National Theatre in 2014. His other plays for the National are Harper Regan and On the Shore of the Wide World, a co-production with Manchester’s Royal Exchange, which won an Olivier Award for Best New Play. His many other plays include Punk Rock, Seawall, Pornography, Country Music, and Motortown. His version of A Doll’s House for the Young Vic transferred to the West End and then New York in 2014. Simon is an Associate at the Lyric, Hammersmith.
This production is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Paule Constable, video design by Finn Ross, movement by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 20th to Saturday 31st October. Very limited advance tickets are now available on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk
Limited Standby Tickets and Standing Places will go on sale daily during the run.
Photos by: Brinkhoff Mögenberg