After nearly 1,500 performances, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is nearing its end in London. Mark Ludmon looks back over its five-year run.
Nearly five years – or 1,743 days – after Christopher Boone first set out to investigate The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre, the show continues to earn standing ovations at its current home of the Gielgud. Audiences are wowed by Bunny Christie’s design, Finn Ross’s video effects, Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham’s movement direction, Simon Stephens’s writing, Mark Haddon’s story and, of course, the talent and physical prowess required to play the lead role of Christopher.
After nearly 1,500 performances, the show will end its run in London on June 3. In that time, it will have been seen by over 1 million people in London, with Christopher played by 18 different actors including understudies. With many fans returning several times, audiences have fallen in love with the story of a 15-year-old maths genius who is obsessed with numbers but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life due to Asperger syndrome. He sets out to solve a mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog but his detective work takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.
The show won seven Olivier Awards including best new play, best director for Marianne Elliott, best design, best lighting design for Paule Constable, best sound design for Ian Dickinson for Autograph, best choreography, and best actor for Luke Treadaway as Christopher. It has continued to thrive despite the dramatic setback of part of the ceiling falling in during a performance just before Christmas 2013. After a hiatus, it reopened over the road in the Gielgud in July 2014. It repeated its success on Broadway, running at the Barrymore Theatre for two years from September 2014, winning five Tony Awards including best play and best actor for Alex Sharp.
To celebrate its five years in London and the final week of performances in the West End, the National Theatre is hosting a special platform with the original creative team, including Marianne Elliott, Mark Haddon and Simon Stephens. It takes place on Thursday June 1 at 5.15pm after the matinee performance at the Gielgud and will be chaired by ITV’s arts editor, Nina Nannar.
Curious Incident is currently on its second tour of the UK and Ireland, with Scott Reid and Sam Newton as Christopher, visiting Sheffield till May 20 and then on to Oxford, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bristol, Plymouth, Birmingham, Llandudno, Southend, Liverpool, Bradford, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Norwich before finishing in Milton Keynes on September 16, 2017. A major North American tour continues throughout 2017, while other international dates will include a run at the Carré Theatre in Amsterdam from September 20 to October 1, 2017, and the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto from October 10 to November 19, 2017. It has previously played Mexico City, Tokyo, Alberta, Seoul and Dublin and further international dates are yet to be announced.
The original cast featured Nicola Walker, who won the Olivier for best-supporting actress, alongside Paul Ritter, Una Stubbs, Niamh Cusack and Nick Sidi. Later casts included other notable names such as Holly Aird while the new intake from June 2015 included then-unknown actor Pearl Mackie who has shot to fame as Doctor Who’s latest assistant, Bill. Below, we look at what the Christophers are doing now.
The first Christopher was Luke Treadaway, winner of one of Curious Incident’s seven Olivier Awards in 2013 and still featured in the main publicity image for the show. Already an acclaimed stage actor at the time, Luke – then aged 27 – played the role at the National's Cottesloe Theatre, where it premiered in August 2012, and then at the Apollo where it opened in March the following year. Luke has continued his stellar career with lead roles in films A Street Cat Named Bob, Unbroken and Get Lucky, TV work such as The Rat Pack and playing Vincent Rattray in the hit series Fortitude. He can currently be seen back on stage in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Imelda Staunton at the Harold Pinter Theatre till May 27.
Mike Noble, then aged 25, replaced Luke in September 2013. He had previously made an impact in two other Simon Stephens plays, Port at the National Theatre and Punk Rock at the Lyric Hammersmith. Originally from Liverpool, Mike ended up playing the role for only three months till December when the Apollo had to close for ceiling and roof repairs. Since then, he has appeared on screen including recurring roles in TV series Home Fires, Grantchester and Mister Selfridge as well as action films Kill Command and The Siege of Jadotville, horror movie Bachelor Games and upcoming thriller Dark River with Ruth Wilson and Sean Bean. He also appeared in Mike Bartlett’s Game at the Almeida.
When Curious Incident opened at the Gielgud in July 2014 after its move from the Apollo, the role of Christopher was taken over by Graham Butler. Aged 28 at the time, the Shropshire-born actor already had several stage shows under his belt after making his debut in 2010 at the National in The White Guard and going on to Henry V and Henry VI at Shakespeare’s Globe. With a TV career that included a recurring role in Penny Dreadful, he has been busy since leaving Curious Incident in June 2015. He is in the film The Isle, due to be released in the UK in October, while theatre credits include Nell Gwynn and Richard II back at the Globe plus Cleansed at the National. He will next be seen in Sweet Bird of Youth at Chichester Festival Theatre in June.
Siôn Daniel Young
Taking over as Christopher in June 2015, Cardiff-born Siôn Daniel Young had previously played the lead role of Albert in the West End production of War Horse and filmed a leading role in Our World War for BBC3. He played Christopher for a year until last summer. He will next be seen in Killology at the Royal Court from May 25 to June 24 alongside Seán Gleason and Richard Mylan.
Not long after graduating from East 17 drama school, Joseph Ayre took over the role of Christopher last June, aged 22 – his first professional acting job. Originally from Hull, he is the 2016 winner of the BBC Radio Carleton Hobbs Bursary Award. He continues to star as Christopher, alternating with Thomas Dennis.
Still aged only 20, Thomas Dennis is the youngest person to have played Christopher, alternating with Joseph Ayre since last summer. A student at Arts Ed drama school, the Northampton-born actor already had theatre credits including Michael Darling in Peter Pan at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Chalk Farm at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Last year, he won the title of Understudy of the Year from West End Frame.