REVIEW: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until July 4.

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You won’t see a finer or more impressive piece of theatre all year than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

With its self-conscious staging, it could have been horribly clever-clever and – for want a better expression – thoroughly up itself.

Instead, it is clever in the very best sense of the word, striking, provocative, hugely engaging and wonderfully inventive.

The piece - based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott – is the tale of Christopher, a fifteen-year-old with a massive ability in maths and an equally massive inability to read the world around him.

When his neighbour’s dog is found dead, Christopher falls under suspicion. His response is to investigate the crime.

The play demands an exceptional actor to take us into Christopher’s Asperger Syndrome world. It finds that actor in Joshua Jenkins, quite brilliant in the way he takes us into Christopher’s super-logical, utterly-literal mind, equally brilliant in showing us Christopher’s terror when the world refuses to behave in the way he expects it to.

The dead dog is the trigger which shatters everything, uncovering deceit and betrayal. Can Christopher put it all back together again?

Jenkins is outstanding – though huge credit too to a fine ensemble who keep it moving, give context to the humour and ensure the emotional depth. Paule Constable’s lighting effects are remarkable too.

It could all so easily have been flashy and tricksy. Instead, thank goodness, it’s theatre at its most imaginative and moving.

Phil Hewitt

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