It’s now ten years since the National Theatre staged Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident. This latest tour breathes new life into this essential play, opening its audience to a world that few of us can identify in an accessible and tasteful manner.
When Christopher – a boy with autistic-like traits – finds a dog murdered in his street, he uncovers more than he bargained for while detecting the culprit of the dog’s gory end.
An eye-opening, heartwarming tale of navigating a world where being different is so often an inconvenience, Curious Incident should be held up as an example of how theatre can be at its best – telling stories of extraordinary people without ever punching down on those who are so often overlooked.
Haddon’s story is cherished by a generation who grew up with the book. Marianne Elliot’s staging of the stage adaptation for the National Theatre broke many moulds – but even a decade on, this productions feels fresher than ever.
This latest incarnation of the National Theatre’s 2012 production is buoyed emphatically with a stellar cast – a joyful celebration of diversity and inclusivity, though each member is their wholly on merit.
It seems fitting that staging someone with autistic-like traits should be done carefully by an actor who understands. Connor Curren leads the piece as Christopher – and happens to have autism himself.
His performance is a painfully realistic insight into Christopher’s world, making us all shine a light on our own prejudices as well as realising just how ridiculous our own lives are – when held under a microscope of taking everything literally.
Rebecca Root’s schoolteacher, Siobhan, is an absolute revelation – with immense empathy while never talking down to Christopher. She and the protagonist often become one, such is their synchronicity and the razor-sharp writing of Simon Stephens’ adaptation of the classic text.
As Christopher’s weary father, Tom Peters is no saint but his love for his son is unquestionable. His understated performance manages to fill the King’s auditorium with ease.
There is a reason Curious Incident – both the book and the play – are so popular in the school curriculum. So deep and rich are it’s layers, it could be unpicked academically in innumerable ways. How it manages to stay so entertaining, then, is down to a combination of a cast-iron script and a dynamic staging.
The whole combination of parts coming together in such perfect harmony is what makes Curious a theatrical experience not to be missed.