English Literature / Drama GCSE: Creating Comedy and Tension

Moments of comedy and tension are explored in the National Theatre’s production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time', adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens from the novel by Mark Haddon.

It shows how placing Christopher on the stage whilst his mother reads aloud her letters about how hard she found life with him build tension into the scene.

In contrast to this, we see moments of comedy in the play.

Simon Stephens explains that many of the comic moments came directly from Mark Haddon’s writing.

We see the cast creating these comic moments on stage, such as the interaction between Mrs Alexander and Christopher.

Because Christopher sees things in a different way, the play is quirky and fun as well as being tense and emotional.

This short film is from the BBC series, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: From Page to Stage, made in collaboration with the National Theatre.

It explores how Mark Haddon’s much-loved novel became a multi-award-winning theatre production.

Interviews with the playwright, director and cast and footage from both rehearsal and performance reveal the process of bringing the story alive on stage.

Teacher Notes

This short film could be useful in looking at particular moments of tension when studying the novel as a set text.

Students could be encouraged to explore Haddon's use of humour and how it is translated to the reader.

Students could gain inspiration on how to perform moments of comedy and tension, and in particular, the scenes with Judy's monologues.

Students could also use this to examine how the actors worked together to create moments of comedy and tension if analysing the play as a piece of live theatre.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 5 in Scotland.

More from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: From Page to Stage

Creating Atmosphere
Design Elements
Ensemble Acting
Adapting a Novel for Theatre
What is Physical Theatre?
Christopher and his Dad
Christopher and his Mum
Christopher and Siobhan
Who is Christopher Boone?