Tag Archives: piccadilly theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Piccadilly Theatre)

The award-winning stage adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel is in its final weeks in the West End, doubtless making plenty of money for the National Theatre, where it originated in 2012.

Sam Newton as Christopher. Photo from the UK tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Sam Newton as Christopher. Photo from the UK tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher Boone (Sam Newton) is a fifteen year old boy on the autism spectrum, a maths genius who finds it hard to function with the chat and metaphors of daily life.

In our glimpse into Christopher’s world, we see and hear how overwhelming everyday activities are to him (act two’s train and tube journey’s are especially evocative).

His father (Stuart Laing) struggles to cope with his clever and challenging child, sometimes overboiling with frustration he instantly regrets. His decision to tell a catastrophic lie leads to the events which close the first half (as sounds, lights, collapsing numbers and falling letters contribute to the boy’s reaction to a shock), and into the adventures of act two.

Newton, adaptor Simon Stephens and director Marianne Elliott create a powerful and believable depiction of the complexities of autism, with a cohesive balance between the comic perception of everyday statements (“the apple of his eye”) and the pathos of emotional attachments (father, mother, neighbour’s dog. pet rat, new puppy).

Emma Beattie as Judy. Photo credit Brinkhoff/Mogenburg

Emma Beattie as Judy. Photo credit Brinkhoff/Mogenburg

The supporting cast are uniformly good – Emma Beattie as the mother who couldn’t cope stood out, but I must note them all. (Sadly the lack of a programme leads me to struggle a bit to assign names to roles).

Bunny Christie’s set is a box which displays material drawn on the floor and generated text and adverts, and utilises hidden doors and storage space very well, plus an inspired use of the front of the stage as a platform on the London Underground.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Photo by Brinkhoff/Mogenburg.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Photo by Brinkhoff/Mogenburg.

The technical wizardry on display has rightly gained plaudits but ultimately this is a show with heart, starting with that curious incident of the dog and the garden fork, and ending with a post-curtain call maths equation.

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Ghost – The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre)

Originally published on my LiveJournal blog on 3 August 2011.

The 1990 film of ‘Ghost’, directed by Jerry Zucker, starring Patrick Swazye, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, was the massive hit of that year.  Writer Bruce Joel Rubin again does the writing duties in this musical version, which has songs by Dave Stewart (formerly of The Eurythmics), and Glen Ballard.

Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman in Ghost.
Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman in Ghost.

In the leads this time are British actor Richard Fleeshman, American singer Caissie Levy, and British musical star Sharon D Clarke.  For me, Clarke stole the show as the brassy psychic fake who freaks out when she discovers her family ‘gift’ is real.  She has one knockout number ‘I’m Outta Here’ in which a naughty dig at Whitney Houston raises a smile, and generally radiates energy – and real pathos when it is needed in the closing scenes.  As for the leads – Fleeshman takes time to settle into his role.  Once he becomes the ‘ghost’ he rails against his fate with some justification, but is let down a bit by songs which aren’t needed.  Levy, although an able actress, is a little shrilly when it comes to the high notes (something I noticed when she sang ‘Easy To Be Hard’ as Sheila in last year’s revival of ‘Hair’).  

I felt that ‘Ghost – The Musical’ suffered a bit from what I call ‘Gone-With-The-Wind-syndrome’ in that in the first half at least there seems to be a song to back up every piece of dialogue.  Far too much is City/office based in a sub-‘Enron’ style with numbers flashing in video projection and staccato choreography.  In the second half things move along more quickly as the plot develops and the conclusion is truly moving.  Throughout video projection, magic tricks, and spectacle fill the senses and provide the wow factor.

In the beautifully re-fitted Piccadilly Theatre (with art deco features and a green/gold colour scheme) the audience were impressed enough to give a standing ovation, although I didn’t think this musical quite deserved it!  It’s a reasonable night out – it looks as if money has been thrown at it, and it keeps the plot of the original film intact (although rearranged slightly).  It has some nice tricks concerning the transfer of souls after death (and some nice bits of comedy), but at its heart it is spectacle over substance.  And without any hummable songs other than ‘Unchained Melody’, which is retained from the film as is the clay-making sequence.


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