Review of 'Farewell to the West End: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'

I have to admit that I found reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time very difficult. A story told completely from the perspective of Chrisopher, a young boy with Asperger syndrome (a form of autism). It was at once challenging but also intriguing and unique from anything else I had read or have read since with it's odd chapters and extremely “geeky” references. When it was unbelievably reworked as a play and transferred to the west end no one thought it would ever do as well as it has done. I had to see the play and was frankly over-awed by the set and the imagination that brought this tough book and subject to life on the stage.

The play is now closing on the west end even as it goes on tour in the UK (the second) and opens in many other cities around the world so when I was told about this talk “Farewell to the West End” that brought together the original creative team for the play I could not resist hearing how they managed this seemingly impossible task. The 45 minute talk was hosted by ITV's arts editor Nina Nannar and featured composer Adrian Sutton (music score), video designer Finn Ross, designer Bunny Christie (set and costumes), playwright Simon Stephens, director Marianne Elliott, co-movement directors Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, as well as the author of the original book Mark Haddon. In the course of the event it was shown how even from the very beginning transferring Mark's work onto the stage was seen as almost impossible but for the vision and passion of the people involved. Indeed, Stephens' passion as playright dominated much of the early conversation as he conveyed to the crowd the belief he had in the project. Sutton aptly demonstrated this passion as he discussed the work he put into the mathematical properties of the music where he became as obsessed with his task as it seems many autistic people themselves do. The technical complexity of the project was only briefly touched on but the deceptive simplicity of the stage was dispelled immediately with an anecdote of trying to simulate a tube escalator on the far end of the giant “box” set. Haddon made only a few comments during the evening but did tell of his re-awakening to his own work the first time he saw the stage show having been on the road selling it for so many years and having really forgotten what it was all about (his wife commented on his laughing at all his own jokes throughout the performance).

There were a few minutes at the end for questions including, notably, one from someone suffering from Aspergers herself who admitted finding it difficult speaking in front of so many people. I found it interesting to note that several questions brought up the issue of the work itself - that of autism and how people with it cope to which the creatives showed quite a lot of compassion and understanding. A lot of effort went into making the play as accurate as possible to the affliction as well as the book. One interesting point raised was that no one with the disease could actually play the role of Christopher since appearing on the stage performing is precisely the anti-thesis of what they would ever be able to do. Similarly Haddon pointed out that no one with autism could ever have written the book for the same reasons.

An interesting evening and, sadly, the end of the west end run of a play that has done so well. It all makes me want to go out and see the play again…

BTW, see “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” Facebook page here for a live streaming video replay of the talk.


Review Date: 2017-06-01

Gielgud Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6AR

Public Transport: TUBE Piccadilly Circus TUBE Leicester Square

Telephone: +44 (0) 844 482 5130


A small theatre in the heart of the west end the Gielgud has a small foyer with the stalls accessed by steps into the sub-basement. The theatre itself has two balconies, a dress circle and grand circle with the later quite small and very raked (wear oxygen). The small interior has good acoustics. Known for long-running shows including, recently, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” which transferred from the National Theatre.