Seeing Through a Different Perspective

October 4, 2017
Natalie Hulla
Meet Christopher John Francis Boone. He is 15 years old, and he knows all the countries of the world and every prime number up to 7,507. He loves mathematics and puzzles. He lives in Swindon, England, with his father and his pet rat, Toby. He is writing a real-life crime story in the style of a Sherlock Holmes novel about the murder of his neighbor’s dog, and he plans to solve the mystery.

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by author Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows Christopher, after his neighbor accuses him of killing her dog, Wellington, when she finds him at the scene of the crime. He has certain sensitivities interacting with other people — he doesn’t like to be touched and he has trouble reading people’s emotions — which cause people to be skeptical of his innocence. Despite this, he puts his analytical skills to work to clear his name and find Wellington’s killer. In doing so, he unexpectedly unravels another, more personal mystery that could change his life forever.

Haddon’s novel was one of the bestselling novels of the decade after its publication in 2003. It sold more than 2.6 million copies in that time and became a critically acclaimed crossover success between adult and young adult audiences.

The novel’s most defining characteristic is arguably the uniqueness of its first-person perspective. It places the reader directly inside Christopher’s mind, allowing them to see the world as he does: defined by logic and method, and free of ambiguity and cynicism. His life is one, big puzzle waiting to be solved. It is a perspective that some of us can only imagine.

“If anything, it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way,” Haddon writes in an essay for The Guardian.

The stage adaptation, penned by Simon Stephens, follows true to the book’s perspective by keeping us inside of his mind. Stephens frames the production within the mystery that Christopher is writing with the help of his teacher, Siobhan, and the story’s events unfold onstage as they’re being told. It not only emphasizes the singularity of the story’s perspective but places Christopher as the narrator of his own journey, which is altogether exhilarating, frightening and illuminating.

“I think people fall in love with Christopher and they fall in love with his imagination,” Stephens says in an interview with Quays News. “Also, I think people enjoy stories about bravery. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is about somebody who has the capacity to be brave.”

The stage adaptation made its world premiere at the Royal National Theatre in London in 2012, its West End debut in 2013 and its Broadway debut in 2014. An overwhelming success, the show won five Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards including best play. 

The Playhouse’s production of the show is directed and choreographed by Tony-nominated Broadway director, Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Playhouse audiences will be familiar with Dodge’s recent direction of The Secret Garden (2015) and Cabaret (2013).

“In our production, the cast and creative team will utilize the techniques of cunning stagecraft and heightened behavior to bring the story to vivid life,” Dodge says in her notes on the production. “No high-tech approach for this production, but rather an approach that will allow these seemingly ordinary characters to make their relationships with Christopher meaningful and fulfilling, however complicated and messy. Everyone who connects with Christopher will begin to see the world in unexpected and enlightening ways.”

Similarly, Haddon writes about the universal connections one can still find within the story, “It’s certainly true of Curious Incident that, while it is a book about Christopher’s own experience, it is equally a book about families, maths, maps, astronomy, travel, order, chaos, violence, dogs and the geometry of Battenberg cake — in short, about all of us.”

To learn more about the Playhouse's production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, visit our production detail page
Photo of Michael Baxter (background) and Nick LaMedica by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.