The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time: 'An A star for richly textured drama'
- Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time: Wembley Troubadour ****
Nearing its tenth anniversary, the National Theatre's award laden adaptation of Mark Haddon's bestseller takes up a welcome nine week residency in Wembley Park.
I've long wanted to take my teenage son to see it. He spends so much of his life being misunderstood, that watching Marianne Elliott's multisensory attempt to evoke a neurodiverse brain might make him feel seen for once.
And for the neurotypical, the soundscape, deft physical theatre, and projections of maps and diagrams across Bunny Christie's cube-like, grid-lined set give an insight into Christopher Boone's super-powered fast-working mind, and the sensory overload that can overwhelm it.
He's a suburban teenager a maths whizz with unspecified behavioural difficulties, who struggles to read emotion and takes things literally. Confronted by a murdered dog in his cul-de-sac, he sets out notebook in hand to interview his neighbours and uncovers disturbing secrets about his parents.
Setting off to London to find his absent mum, a simple journey is a courageous Herculean task for Christopher. As any Brent resident will tell you confusing Willesden Junction for Willesden Green spells a long walk, and my son thought the physically battering trip - at one point climbing walls, at another being told to 'eff off' - spot on.
Simon Stephens' adaptation subtly pinpoints the sadness and joy of parenting a special needs child, bumbling dad Ed gets so much wrong, while mum Judy feels a failure. Metatheatrical moments jerk us out of any sentiment - as Christopher's learning mentor Siobhan tells us we are watching a play of his book - but the touching moments feel earned.
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In the years since Haddon wrote it, the emotionally cauterized maths savant has become a trope, but this richly-textured ultimately life affirming production doesn't feel lazy, and features a talented diverse cast and crew who include trans, deaf and neurodiverse members.
On our night Sophie Stone's Judy evoked the heartbreak of caring for a son you can't touch, and Connor Curren, veering between control and helplessness eloquently embodies Christopher's struggle to make sense of his world. Like Christopher's maths exam, I give it an A*.