When 15-year-old Christopher runs away from his father’s home in Swindon and makes his epic journey to London – which he’s never been to before – and he reaches Paddington Station and needs to get to his mother’s place at 452c Chapter Road, NW2, I had to stop myself from yelling – ‘Bakerloo Line to Baker Street, change to Jubilee Line north to Dollis Hill and you’re right there!’ (Chapter Road is right at the end of the street where I live you see and I go down it most days to get to Dollis Hill tube station) – so caught up was I with young Christopher’s plight and his utterly convincing portrayal in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre Cottesloe.
There is no 452c Chapter Road – I just checked – and nor is there any sign of an elf, or gnome, in any nearby front garden, let alone a fishpond. Chapter Road is a pretty ordinary road by and large, mostly lettings, rather a lot of rubbish on the pavements and old furniture out the front, but good views of the Wembley Stadium arch. I’m not particularly surprised Christopher’s mother didn’t like living there. But it’s a bit of a thrill to see it featured in what has to be one of the best shows on offer in London, now and for a long time.
It’s a bit late in the day to post a review of the play – it’s already been seen on NTLive, here and in Australia and no doubt around the world – and in any case it’s booked out for the rest of its run. I just would like to comment however on its more unusual aspects, in particular the meticulous detail: the clever light projections on the stage floor, the wonderfully inventive and recognisable choreography (Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett from Frantic Assembly), even the little toy trains circumnavigating the theatre space. I loved everything about it – the production, the settings, the performances, the commitment (I was in the front row so the actors were virtually sweating into my lap; I was also sitting in a Prime Seat with a Number on it, which was scary, till I realised it was another (benign) production detail: 109 being a prime number (presumably)). I loved that it was sweet but not cloying, tender without being remotely mawkish. Every character (almost) is good-hearted. Everyone wants to do their best for Christopher. His father’s love for his son is so powerful it’s agonising to watch.
Hats off to everyone: to all the actors and Luke Treadaway and Paul Ritter in particular, to Marianne (War Horse) Elliott (director), Bunnie Christie (designer) and Paule Constable (lighting). Not forgetting Mark Haddon of course, and the adapter Simon Stephens (who I believe must be several people, he is so prolific).
The play is transferring to the Apollo Theatre in March 2013.
We are very lucky people.