WHEN this multiple-award-winning play, based on the 2003 multiple-award-winning book by Mark Haddon, came to Bath as part of its first national tour in October 2015 it was already sold out when our editor gave it a glowing review, with the few standby and standing tickets selling out for each performance.
Fortunately it is back at Bath this week, and from this evening’s sold-out performance it has lost none of its appeal, style or energy. While the West End production continues at the Gielgud Theatre until the beginning of June and another cast are touring North America the UK tour pays a visit to five venues in or very near our region over the coming months.
The play, by Simon Stephens, cleverly transposes the first-person narrative of the book into a school play, based on the writings of Christopher John Francis Boone, a boy who sees the world in a different way to many of the other pupils at the school. Christopher is played on the tour by Scott Reid, and he is perfect as the teenage boy who launches an investigation after finding the dead dog of the title on a neighbour’s lawn, and makes his way through his investigation, reminding us that we are all different, and that all of us interpret things in different ways.
The movement in this play, choreographed by Frantic Assembly, is what makes the magic of the stage effects work, so that animated floors and backgrounds fit the action perfectly, and this is just as accurate and amazing to an audience today as it was when I first saw the play five years ago. The lighting and animation enhances the production, rather than overpowering it, and the play would still be very powerful without it. Indeed, while its original West End venue was closed for emergency repair over 1000 school children were treated to free performances of the show, with hardly any extras, at Stratford Old Town Hall in East London, testament to the quality of the writing and direction, and the talent of the cast, with or without all the bells and whistles.
I could list every one of the other nine members of the cast, but they are all just so good, and while some of them have some funny or clever lines, or are involved in more moving and sentiment-filled scenes, it would be remiss of me to ignore any single member of this highly-drilled ensemble. Scenes involving larger numbers are the most impressive, particularly the physical aspect of the staging, ensuring pinpoint accuracy of position, but there are some wonderfully sensitive scenes too, and an incredible dynamic contrast between the larger and more intimate moments.
If you are quick enough you may still manage to get tickets – this modern classic is at Bath until Saturday 25th March, then at Southampton Mayflower the following week (27th March to 1st April), and back in the area at Cardiff Millennium Centre (2nd to 6th May), Bristol Hippodrome (13th to 17th June) and Plymouth Theatre Royal (26th June to 1st July), or elsewhere throughout the country until at least September.
Tuesday 14th March 2017