As it celebrates three successful years in the West End, it’s safe to say that this adaptation of Mark Haddon’s bestseller remains one the most intoxicating and compelling plays in London.
It tells the story of 15-year-old Christopher Boone who decides to turn detective – like his hero Sherlock Holmes –when a neighbour’s dog is brutally killed and he initially becomes the prime suspect. Christopher suffers from autism (although we’re not told in what form), which makes him a maths genius and severely affects his interaction with other people. As Christopher’s investigations continue, he enters unchartered territory and struggles with new experiences that to anyone else would be mundane.
Script writer Simon Stephens has done a masterful job of moving the first-person narrative of the novel to the stage through a seamless combination of acted scenes and narration – the teacher at Christopher’s special-needs school reads aloud his book about the investigation.
Sion Daniel Young as Christopher
But what makes director Marianne Elliott’s production so enthralling is Bunny Christie’s stage design and the work of movement directors Scott Graham and Steven Hogget. They take us deep into Christopher’s world and give us an understanding of his thought process with the use of some quite astonishing visuals and choreography.
Not that the production ever becomes just about the the tech, because at its heart is Christopher’s very human story. On the night I went, first cover Kaffe Keating took the lead role and imbued Christopher with warmth, humour and poignancy — words that sum up the play itself.
The Curious Incident is at the Gielgud Theatre until 29 October