Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre ★★★★☆

Tom Peters and Connor Curren. Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Can you believe it’s been ten years since Simon Stephen’s adaption of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the novel by Mark Hadden, took the world by storm. Following its initial opening at the National Theatre’s Cottesloe Theatre it’s transferred to the West End and Broadway, toured the UK and toured internationally, visiting Amsterdam, Toronto, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai.

And now it’s back in London, this time at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in the shadow of Wembley Stadium ahead of a 10th Anniversary UK tour. You could say it’s popular.

And with good reason. The story of the neurodiverse teenager Christopher Boone and his investigation into the strange murder of his neighbours dog and the resulting chain of events is continually engaging, particularly given the exceptional performance by Connor Curren as Christopher – he is utterly convincing in the role. Your heart breaks for him as the world he knows disintegrates and he struggles to keep hold of the things that keep him anchored. This is the first production that has cast a neurodiverse actor in the lead role which makes this all the more compelling.

Curren is supported by a strong ensemble cast who portray the variety of family, neighbours, teachers, police and commuters he meets along the way. Tom Peters providing a particularly touching portrayal of a father trying to win his son’s love.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it does lose some of its pacing in the final quarter; with mysteries resolved and travels at an end it becomes more of a family drama. While interesting, it doesn’t have the same natural drive as the elements of the play explored in the rest of the play. But still, the emotion grabs you when he receives his A-level results at the play’s conclusion – even if he is relatively emotionless – thanks to Stephen’s writing. Meanwhile, the staging (Bunny Christie) and visual effects (Finn Ross) retain their magic, even after ten years.

There are a large contingent of schoolchildren in attendance on press night and that is the real magic of Marianne Elliott’s production; not only is it excellent, it is accessible. It provides a doorway to introduce young people to the theatre. Some will return to the theatre, some won’t – but the one’s that do will be the punters who sustain theatre through the uncertain times we live in.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre until 9 January and then touring.