The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre
Christopher is 15 years old. He lives with his father, likes computer games and hates the colour yellow. He “knows all of the countries in the world and all of the capital cities”. He’s also got a mystery to solve after finding the body of his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, late one night. What he doesn’t know is that in unravelling one secret, he may uncover another.
Released in 2004, Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, has sold over ten million copies worldwide, earning 17 literary prizes while doing so. Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise that this compelling story has found its way onto the stage in an adaptation by Simon Stephens. Close to ten years after its original premiere at the National Theatre, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time returns to stages in a spellbinding touring production, directed by Marianna Elliot.
When asked by Mark Haddon to write the adaptation, Simon Stephens says he was drawn to the story because “it is honest and funny and allows readers to see the world in a way they may not have done before”. Christopher is autistic. This means that his perspective of the world may differ a little from ours, and it is a perspective that has (unfortunately) been explored infrequently in mainstream media. Despite this, previous productions received criticism for failing to cast a neurodiverse actor in the central role. This time, the company aimed to cast actors with a lived experience of neurodiversity, while embedding access into casting, rehearsal and production processes.
The diverse casting gives the performance heart. Representation is powerful – it lets us know we aren’t alone, and with audiences of hundreds flocking to the show each day, there will no doubt be viewers who see themselves represented on the stage for the first time. This is particularly important when one considers the number of school children present.
Last night, Connor Curren took to the stage as Christopher (the role is shared with David Breeds) in a performance that was as close to perfection as possible. Curren is a dynamic leading man, taking the audience from moments of impossible panic to sheer joy in just a small change of expression. In many ways it feels as though the role was written for him. He is supported by a stellar cast, including Tom Peters, who plays the young man’s father with unwavering sincerity. Sophie Stone is equally compelling as his well-meaning mother, and Rebecca Root’s potent stage presence when his Christopher’s teacher, Siobhan, is truly remarkable.
One of the strongest elements of the production is its set, which combines technology, lighting and clever use of space and props to bring Christopher’s inner world to life. Audiences are taken from a quiet street in Swindon to outer space, to the London underground and beyond.
To put it simply, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is an impressive insight into neurodiversity, framed around a family’s journey to understand each other better. It is full of passion, heart and honesty.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre from 20th November 2021 until 9th January 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.