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


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

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
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 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, 2015 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding New Broadway Play, the 2015 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play, and the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play.

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.


  • Characters 1
  • Plot 2
  • Productions 3
    • West End 3.1
    • Broadway 3.2
    • Tours 3.3
  • Historical casting 4
  • Awards and nominations 5
    • West End production 5.1
    • Broadway production 5.2
  • Critical response 6
    • West End 6.1
    • Broadway 6.2
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8


  • Christopher John Francis Boone: The 15-year-old protagonist, who investigates the murder of Mrs. Shears' large dog, Wellington.
  • Mr Ed 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 Judy 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 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

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] The production is choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett.[28]


A touring cast is set to begin at The Lowry in Salford in late 2014.[29] 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.[30]

Historical casting

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

Role Royal National
Apollo Theatre
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.[33] On September 13, 2015 several members of the original Broadway cast performed their last show and were replaced on September 15 with a new cast.[34][35][36]

Awards and nominations

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.[37] The production eventually won seven Olivier awards,[38] thereby equalling Matilda the Musical's record win total in 2012.[39][40] The play was also acclaimed with the Best New Play on 17 February 2013 at the Whatsonstage Awards.[41]

West End production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Laurence Olivier Awards[38] 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

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2015 Tony Award[42] Best Play Won
Best Direction of a Play Marianne Elliott Won
Best Actor in a Play Alex Sharp Won
Best Lighting Design of a Play Paule Constable Won
Best Scenic Design of a Play Bunny Christie and Finn Ross Won
Best Choreography Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett Nominated
Drama Desk Award[43] Outstanding Play Won
Outstanding Actor in a Play Alex Sharp Won
Outstanding Director of a Play Marianne Elliott Won
Outstanding Lighting Design Paule Constable Won
Outstanding Projection Design Finn Ross Won
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play Ian Dickinson for Autograph Won
Drama League Award[44] Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play Won
Distinguished Performance Award Alexander Sharp Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award[45] 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

West End

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."[46] 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.[47] 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."[48]

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.[49]


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.[50] 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".[51] She lauded Sharp's "movement, expressions and voice making the boy's terrors and his ferocious intelligence seem equally natural".[51]

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.[52] 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.[53]'s Jeremy Gerard felt that the production combines the obsessed math prodigy element of A Beautiful Mind with the mentoring compassion of Billy Elliot.[54] 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.[55]

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.[56] His Wall Street Journal colleague Stefanie Cohen thought the play suffered from difficulty in adapting the book to the stage.[3]


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  21. ^ Shenton, Mark. Will Move to West End's Gielgud in June; Broadway to Follow"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time",, 8 January 2014
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  31. ^ Shenton, Mark. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"Casting Announced for West End Return of , Playbill, 4 April 2014
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  33. ^ Amer, Matthew. cast unveiled"Curious"New , OfficalLondonTheatre, 22 July 2013, accessed 14 October 2014
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  45. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'Curious Incident' Top Winner at Outer Critics Circle Awards", May 11, 2015
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External links

  • Official Broadway show website
  • Broadway show at Playbill
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