It’s almost difficult to believe that it’s been just shy of a decade since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time first premiered at The National Theatre. In that short time the play, adapted from Mark Haddon’s novel by Simon Stephens, has become a worldwide phenomenon, scooping up countless awards.
As this tenth anniversary tour kicks off with a residency at London’s Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, the production continues to push boundaries with diverse casting, and director Marianne Elliott has tweaked elements of it, working with consultants from autistic and neurodiverse communities to make this play even more relevant for this new world we find ourselves in.
But the production remains faithful to the original, just as Simon Stephens adaptation remains faithful to Haddon’s novel, only straying to adopt the play-within-a-play structure. Christopher Boone’s investigations into the murder of a neighbour’s dog leads to uncomfortable discoveries about his family, and an adventure to London, and back.
Connor Curren, who was our press night Cristopher (the role is shared with David Breeds), commanded the stage throughout. The intensely physical performance is mesmerising to witness and Curren’s ability to portray the inner workings of Christopher’s mind was precise to the point of perfection.
For anyone who has seen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, almost always their first comment is on Bunny Christie’s exceptional set design. This new touring production does not compromise this in any way, the LCD screens, projections and lighting that have become synonymous with the production remain exactly as they should be.
A large school group were present on opening night, and it’s a fair assumption that for many of them this will have been their first experience of seeing a play. Not only will they have learned the importance of accepting and adapting to meet the needs of others, they will have experienced the magic of storytelling that is so fundamental to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The show’s programme reminds us that Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the nations favourite book, and perhaps Simon Stephens’ stage adaptation should be considered the nation’s favourite play. It’s themes of summoning enough bravery and strength to undertake difficult journeys feel more important now than ever.