Jun 25, 2020 in Literature

The Novel and Drama Adaptation

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time novel authored by Mark Haddon, the narrator recounts his ordeal in a foreign land. The story was adapted by Simon Stephens as a play. The playwright made justifiable changes in the narration in terms of the passage of time and contextual framework. However, the changes do not angle the plot of the story in any way; the only alteration is the fact that characters play active roles in the play as opposed to the first person narration in the original work. Although the plot and contexts of the two pieces are largely the same, Simon Stephens’ adaptation made a few changes in order to qualify the novel for the stage performance.

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The novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, talks about adventures of a fifteen-year-old boy in England just as the drama by Simon Stephens does. Mark Haddon wrote the novel in the first person narrative in order to make the story of young Christopher Boone clearer to readers and make them empathize with his situation. In essence, the novel reflects on how hard it is for aliens, especially those with social disorders, to cope with traditional cultures and life in the modern world. In the novel, Christopher Boone is the only narrator; thus, he is a protagonist and one of principal characters. On the other hand, in the drama by Simon Stephens, all character put different episodes on an act. The character in the novel lacks emotional intelligence; however, he claims to be a good mathematician. In an effort to find out the mystery of the death of his neighbor’s dog, Christopher Boone unravels many aspects about his family, of which he was unaware. A sequence of minor events makes the story fascinating. These insightful and captivating features encouraged Simon Stephens to adapt the novel for the stage. The novel is a single narration by Christopher, while the drama involves different scenes that make it a play inside a play.


Simon Stephens’ adaptation of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, into a drama involved a number of changes and alterations. In essence, the playwright reworked the whole story in order to fit it into the stage perspective with all characters playing major roles in various scenes. Many literary critics have lauded Simon Stephens’ ingenuity and termed his drama a play within a play. Although the constancy of the playscript and original plot is undisputed, the playwright made many adjustments in order to turn the novel into a play with many scenes. The novel has one character that is the only narrator of all events that take place in the story. Meanwhile, the drama offers the views and perspectives of all characters.

The play has received many accolades in addition to the warm reception from both the audiences and the critics. Simon Stephens ensures that readers and viewers can draw parallels between the play and book as the drama was developed in a manner to reflect the views of the narrator from the novel. Besides, all ten characters play their respective roles as described in the narration. In such a manner, the context, in general, and relevance of characters are preserved. In essence, the drama creates a sense of attachment to individual characters as opposed to the novel where Boone narrates the whole story on his own. 

The comparison of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Tim and Simon Stephens’ stage adaptation of the same novel reveals both significant similarities and notable differences. The play uses Christopher Boone as the main character although in the novel, he is the only narrator. Obviously, the play could not preserve this feature as, in such a case, it would be a monolog and not a drama. Numerous dialogs between characters offer another perspective of Haddon’s piece. This format makes the work more artistic and appealing. Without the drama, readers would miss some key themes that the author intended to communicate. However, the drama passes the context of the story in such a manner that excites the imagination of the audience as they acquired a chance to see all characters in different scenes and attach to them. The playwright introduces some significant changes that made the play stage-worthy. The novel is a narration by a single character; thus, it could not have been performed in its original form. 

According to Stephens and Haddon, the playwright made critical changes to the novel in order to make it understandable and attractive to the stage audience, considering varying expectations of different viewers. Unlike the novel that incorporates one sole character to tell the story for others, the drama offers a sequence of different episodes, which are parts of the story, in order to keep the audience on tenterhooks. Haddon’s work is a narration about adventures of the fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, in which other characters play a passive role in the background. However, Stephens changes the arrangement of the story without any huge interference with the plot by letting each character to tell their stories and perform respective roles. Additionally, the use of a stronger language than in the original novel contributes to the attractiveness of the play to the general audience.

Each piece deals with the passage of time differently. In such a manner, the novel uses a continuous narration with breaks into paragraphs that highlight different aspects of the story. The novel introduces other characters through the perspective of the narrator in order to indicate the passage of time and change of events. However, the situation is somewhat different in the play; the playwright divides the story into many scenes with each scene representing a particular episode of the story. Although the two pieces handle the passage of time differently, the plot remains the same, while characterization is employed in a theatrical dimension. 

Simon Stephens adapted the novel by Haddon in a humorous yet moving manner. The uniqueness of his characterization is based more on the emotional background rather than on the intellectual perspective. The play allows introducing other characters that add new perspectives with regard to Christopher’s circumstances. The playwright directed the play in a manner to reach an initial climax in the first act, which was not the case with the novel. This slight change in the plot allows characters to regroup for the next act creating avoid a sense of monotony in the viewers’ minds. The ability of the play to pass the views of Christopher Boone, who is a young protagonist, makes it worthy of the stage performance. The playwright consciously made a few changes to the novel in order to offer a completely new perspective that readers did not see. 

The playwright made the changes intentionally because of some reasons that apply to the specifics of the stage performance. For instance, the playwright had to incorporate the visual aspect of the story in a manner that could support and pass the context and idea of the original work. The only way to achieve this objective was to change a narration into a play with all characters playing equal roles in the plot development. Additionally, the play had to focus on the emotional aspect of the original piece in order to develop a captivating story from the narrator’s perspective. However, the play lost some aspects of the story while transferring it to the stage, as well. For example, Christopher Boone lost his principle role of narrating the story in the novel to become one of the key characters in the play. Nevertheless, in both pieces, the young boy achieved his objective of demonstrating how differently people with autism experience the world.

In conclusion, Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, involved some changes that were aimed to make the play worthy of the stage. The comparison between the two pieces reveals the similarity in the plot and characterization although the adaptation enhances the visual aspects in order to entertain the audience. The playwright changes the settings by dividing the story into various scenes in order to follow the episodes described by the narrator of the story. This alteration enables the playwright to handle the passage of time effectively. The narration in the novel changes to dialogs between different characters. Consequently, the key role is passed from Christopher Boone, who is the narrator of the novel, to many characters in the play. In such a manner, Simon Stephens makes the drama more artistic and lively.

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