With the majority of the story set in Swindon and the original author Mark Haddon being a resident of his beloved Oxford, it was only a matter of time before the award-winning stage play Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time made its way to Ocelotshire where it will play at Oxford’s New Theatre from Tuesday July 14 to Saturday July 18. Jamie Hill caught up with Josh Jenkins, who portrays the lead role of Christopher, for a chat.
Christopher, fifteen years old, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world…
Based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been put together by The National Theatre. With a successful West End run under its belt and having just scooped an Emmy on Broadway, this is the play’s first regional tour.
Swansea born Joshua Jenkins makes his National Theatre debut as Christopher for the tour. His previous theatre credits include: Dunsinane for the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre of Scotland.
He said: “It’s about a 15-year-old boy called Christopher John Francis Boone who is a mathematical genius but is unable to cope with the wider world. Although it is never explicitly stated he definitely falls in the autistic spectrum and finds it difficult to deal with a lot of the normal things that we deal with in life.”
Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel was received with worldwide acclaim. It tells the story of Christopher’s journey out of his comfort zone of his house on an anonymous street in Swindon to London. The entire novel is based from Christopher’s point of view as, using numbers, he tries to negotiate his travels.
Josh added: “I fell in love with the book when I first read it and to actually play Christopher is a dream come true. It is an absolute gift of a part. He’s never off the stage for two and a half hours. It’s exhausting but also exhilarating. There are not many parts like this for a young actor like me so I’m so honoured to be playing him.”
The play is very effects driven as we get to see the inner workings of Christopher’s mind as he works things out. “The book was told through Christopher’s eyes so using very intelligent lighting and sound we are able to let you into Christopher’s world. Things that we take for granted are totally alien for Christopher and we needed to get that over to people.
“The book was hugely influential in how people view people with aspergers or autism and the play has widened that net even further. We get so many autistic people coming to the play or who have austistic family members and they are hugely grateful for everything it has done in raising awareness and making people think.
“Although the play is set partly in Swindon, it could be any average street in Britain as before the story gets set in motion Christopher’s world is solely his house and his street and he has no notion of the wider world.”
Mark Haddon, himself, is apparently even going to attend one of the Oxford showings and Josh is a bit nervous about that night.
“I just hope that he thinks I’ve done the part justice. People in Oxford are bound to hold the book in their hearts as it’s written by one of their own but to be honest with you we get a great reaction wherever we go.
“We’ve been touring since late last year and together with the ensemble cast you have to be at top fitness to keep it going. It’s pretty intense, during rehearsals we used to do warm-ups before we started as there’s so much physical activity in they play and we also have to do a warm-up before each performance. There’s a lot of energy in the show and for me personally, being on the stage constantly, it is quite tiring. But I love it.”
For tickets or for more information about the show visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-theatre-oxford