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  • Writer's pictureFrances

The Curious Incident | The Lowry | Manchester

The Curious Incident is a captivating story about an autistic teenager, a murder and the secret lives of others. Playwright, Simon Stephens adapted this well-known novel by Mark Haddon in 2012 and the show has since won seven Olivier Awards. As it continues its latest nationwide tour, the production is taking over the Lowry Theatre with its imposing multisensory, cube staging.

The production magnifies the world of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old who lives in Swindon and is continually challenged by his daily life. Christopher prefers his own company and takes most sayings literally, but his love of maths and science motivates the majority of his actions. The novel is able to convey Christopher’s calculated quirks through randomly placed facts and tangents which have been adapted onto multiple screens that encompasses the entire live stage. Although Christopher's habits can be fairly distancing to the reader in the novel, Marianne Elliott’s inventive platform allows Christopher to present his outsider perspective through the ensemble cast and illustrations that ensure that his story runs smoothly.

The Lowry Theatre exposes far more than the novel as the humbling and heart-warming tale gives a voice to Christopher through his narrator, teacher Mrs. Shears (Clare Perkins) and the ensemble cast. In an imaginative set design, that is essentially Christopher’s brain. This incredibly ambitious production explains the set of rules that surround Christopher’s life and expand on his thoughts like a magic box. Christopher's world is one of many rules, a fact that is reflected directly onto the stage, a clean and clinical box with hidden doors and compartments. With ensemble cast members becoming the scenery in a physically morphing set that mirrors Christopher’s dizzying experiences.

The challenge surrounding The Curious Incident production is the characters lack of empathy and his difficulty in interpreting and conveying emotions, but Haddon’s narrative is genuinely funny, offering audiences a sincere storyline that makes a world of difference. The terrific casting fulfils the other half of this shows hypnotic skill as its scenery and lead play a major role of drawing you into Christopher’s intimate tale.

Christopher, who is played magnificently by Jenkins is asked to run in practically every scene and is virtually never off stage. The Lowry has Jenkins playing to an assorted audience of students and seniors in a demanding role that he lovingly portrays. With so few props on stage to distract from the eye-watering storytelling, Jenkins performance includes physical ticks, lifts and intense scenes of emotions that the audience will be glued to.

Dramatic in its simplicity, The Curious Incident offers one of the best sets ever designed. Elliott’s sensational direction has inspired countless stage shows, who have lifted ideas from this productions enthrallingly minimalist structure and its imaginative transitions. Jenkins has a quality that audiences can read from the back of the theatre, which helps carry this quiet family tale, but The Curious Incident is a story grounded in reality, yet visually fantastical.

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