The National Theater’s stage adaptation of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” opened on Broadway to rave reviews Oct. 5, after a well-received London debut that led to a West End run and multiple Oliviers.
Which is pretty funny for a project that nobody thought was a good idea at first.
“I thought it was unadaptable,” said writer Mark Haddon of his own novel, told from the seemingly unstageable point of view of a U.K. teen with behavioral problems.
Ditto for director Marianne Elliott. “I thought it was not a good idea,” she recalled at the Broadway production’s opening night party at new midtown joint Urbo. Even once Elliott got on board, it took some convincing to get Nicholas Hytner, the a.d. of the National Theater, to give it a greenlight. “He thought it was a bad idea too,” she said with a laugh.
But Haddon had gotten so many requests for the rights to do a stage version that he eventually decided he wanted to handpick the writer to give it a shot. He chose playwright Simon Stephens.
“I was a bit dubious at first, but the reason I was dubious became the reason that I wanted him to do it in the end,” Haddon said.
“Because of the splinter of glass in my soul?” Stephens helpfully offered.
“This is a man who writes plays about people who are bludgeoned to death with rocks,” Haddon picked up. “So I thought I could trust him not to be too sentimental.”
No one expected the stage version — co-produced Stateside by the theater division of Warner Bros., which owns the movie rights to the property — to turn into the hit that it did.
“It s about a kid with behavioral problems in a tiny town in England, and his dad who’s a heating engineer,” Haddon said. “That sounds like a flop to me.”