St Andrews-born Bunny Christie is the visual brain behind The National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Tasked with designing the set and costumes for Simon Stephens’ adaptation of the well-loved book, Christie is well-versed in the art of bringing main character Christopher’s imagination to life, on stage and now in the Liberty windows.
Taking over our Great Marlborough Street displays until November, the windows use themes from Mark Haddon’s original book and marry them with Liberty’s product and principles. Anyone walking by will note the tagline See Your World Differently, something Christie links closely to Curious Incident’s main character, Christopher.
“There’s juxtaposition between something that’s structured, simple and ordered and the kind of bizarre, off-kilter quality of the clothes. What’s interesting about Christopher in the play/book is he has a different view of the world and he doesn’t tell lies, he says and sees things as they really are where we bend the truth just to get through life. The grid pattern in the windows and set was inspired by Christopher’s love of maths, numbers, order and symmetry, that’s his mechanism. He likes maths because it doesn’t lie, it can’t.”
Also top of the designer’s list is the accessibility of the story: “It’s the only show I’ve ever done where I can say to anybody that they’ll like it. I think Liberty’s windows are a bit like that, you don’t have to be fashion-forward to be stopped in your tracks.” Capturing the magic of both show and shop in a window brings home the importance of London as a global destination, with theatre and shopping among Britain’s finest attractions. Very much on Christie’s radar is the importance of celebrating the play, Liberty and British design as a whole.
“I don’t think people realise how massively important British design is, I think we really undersell ourselves in terms of how important it is across the world. Liberty is right up there and British theatre is right up there. There is a [National Theatre] statistic where more people go to the theatre every year [in London] than football matches; theatre is a massive income for the country along with fashion and we should be really proud of that. Sometimes we don’t really value [design] but it’s a big skill that we have, from film, architecture and art to car design.”
When asked how Mark Haddon reacted to the first presentation of her designs, Christie tributes him with an unruffled approach: “Haddon said when he wrote Curious Incident it was this phenomenon, like a bomb went off in his life. He said how lovely it was that other people had taken it on, and he could just hand it over and trust us to do something with it. That was really sweet because it’s massively his thing.”
Not only is it Haddon’s thing, it’s been taken on among global audiences as their favourite story. Christie credits Curious Incident’s unending appeal to its ability to speak to all, and has fielded letters from a wide range of fans: “We get letters a lot and that’s just charming… from people who’ve got kids with special needs and even behavioral issues. It isn’t even just about that, there are things in it about your parents splitting up, or if you’re splitting up from your partner. It’s just about family really.”
Immerse yourself in Christopher’s deeply affecting narrative; The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is showing at the Gielgud Theatre until June 2016 and you can see the Liberty windows until 15 November 2015.