The Curious Incident at the Lyceum: play review

Mark Haddon’s award-winning book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has been adapted for the stage, and the execution of it is beautiful. The play is the winner of 7 2013 Olivier Awards and 5 2015 Tony Awards, and deservingly so. The book itself was the winner of more than 17 literary awards. Clearly, the story and everything surrounding it, is something spectacular.

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Christopher, fifteen years old, stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in the book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington. He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world. – http://www.curiousonstage.com/about-the-show/

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Christopher has ASD, and the play acts as a Shakespeare-esque play-within-a-play, as narrated by Christopher’s mentor Siobhan. The delicate and intricate details of the play’s structure is wonderful, pulling you straight out of the audience and into the action – from the reference to the audience to Christopher’s post-curtain-call maths lesson. The whole stage design is a work of genius, set out on a grid that is adapted to create houses and other props as needs be with the use of light projection to make realistic but non-existent walls. The cleanness of the set means that the focus is entirely on the action rather than overly elaborate sets. Christopher also uses chalk to show the audience how he distinguishes between happy and sad faces, to great effect. Even sat as far back as I was in the audience, the effect was not lost upon me.

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The play itself will obviously attract the interest of ASD individuals, but I feel obligated to issue a fair warning: take into account sensory issues before going to see it. It’s absolutely brilliant, and gives a really good insight to people not on the spectrum of what a meltdown is like. However, to do this effectively, there is a lot of sensory output, including flashing lights and very loud noise. I coped with just closed eyes and my hands over my ears, but if you’re more sensory than me then earplugs might be a good idea.

If you do get to see it while it tours the UK, I’d love to hear what you think. It’s a brilliant adaptation, and a great play in its own right.

Stay safe, friends. x

 

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