Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham Hippodrome’s really on a roll at the moment, if you consider a theatre that gives audiences what they want to see is doing a good job.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

A packed first-night audience is always a good sign that crowd-pleasing theatre’s on offer and the National Theatre’s 2003 high-tech production of Mark Haddon’s 2003 best-seller novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night is the goods with gilded knobs on.

I read the book when it first came out (there must be a valuable first edition lying about somewhere) but so long ago I’d forgotten that the story’s about a teenage boy who solves a domestic mystery with all the acumen of a modern Sherlock despite suffering from Asperger Syndrome which makes his perceptions profoundly different to “normal” people – and herein lies the magic of the tale.

The first half has a familiarly domestic charm as we see a father trying to come to terms with his differently-abled and meticulously logical child. But after the interval home truths come home to roost as revelations come thick and fast when past and present – (don’t ask – I refuse to spoil the many plot surprises) collide.

I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like the display of on-stage state of the art magical-techno tricks here – it’s quite simply awesome, making this show, for the performers, a totally interactive mix where every move is integrated with its digital sets.

The sequence depicting a nightmare visit to London by someone with impaired perceptions is a frighteningly accurate depiction of someone coming from the provinces and expecting to travel around normally and without stress. I’m already scarred – reader, it’s happened to me. But the technical resources of the National Theatre’s wizardry makes this sequence alone worth the price of admission.

And rest happy – it turns out the boy isn’t the one with the problem – it’s everybody else’s view of him that’s at fault. The message is – anyone, no matter however differently-abled can achieve – but you have to go deep within and feel the force. The standing ovation at the end said it all. Generous, technically superb, uplifting – what’s not to like?

See it if you can – the first night was packed out.

The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night runs until Saturday (July 8). For tickets phone the box office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

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