I was twelve years old when I first entered Christopher Boone’s world in the pages of Mark Haddon’s widely celebrated novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Fifteen years later and a decade after the play first premiered, I sat in the audience of the Troubadour Theatre in a pool of nostalgia as passages from the story vividly made their way back from my memory. Christopher’s detective journey across the United Kingdom was my first introduction to neurodiversity as a young adult. Traveling through his narrative altered my very singular understanding of touch, sound, and emotion in a way that fifteen years later, staged within the deft craft of Simon Steven’s playwriting, held even more value.
This play has been taken all around the world. It has excellent reviews and a brilliant team behind it. It is by all means of description, a big play, and a good play. The script cleverly adapts the novel into a ‘play within a play’ framework that is at once accessible as it is subversive. What I love most about theatre as a medium is its ability to make you see the same thing in a new way—be it as simple as a body in space. Marianne Elliott’s direction plays with movement and stage technology to do just that: a body becomes a doorknob, a ceiling becomes a floor, and the London tube transforms into a terrifying and deadly circus. Every part of this production leans into its theatricality and intelligently uses the craft of staging to immerse the audience in Christopher’s world.
In the ten years this play has been running, this has all been said. So, what then is the importance of this show’s restaging? Why, a decade later, is this narrative still important? Simon Stephens puts it well. In his note to the audience, he writes “I think it is Christopher’s capacity to find the magical within a world that seems mundane that has captivated all those people who have come along to see our work”. I would say this continues to captivate us, perhaps a lot more, after a devastating and unimaginable two years in a locked-down world where we’ve similarly had to rethink our relationship with travel, touch, and the outside world. It has perhaps made us all a little more empathetic to different experiences of the spaces we inhabit, and a little softer to the knowledge that the mundane can be as frightening as it is remarkable.
The play continues to work on itself like the living, breathing being it is. It works to keep the sentiment of Haddon’s story alive in collaboration with Access All Areas and other consultants from neurodiverse and autistic communities. I imagine that Curious will be an introduction to understanding neurodiversity for many young people now as the book was for me many years ago. The show is a testament to how theatre can be used for a cause and stand the test of time while doing so.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues at The Troubadour Theatre until 9th January 2022 https://www.troubadourtheatres.com/wembley-park/whats-on/the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time
Reviewer: Pooja Sivaraman
Reviewed: 1st December 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★