Critics say new play that uses a puppet to portray an autistic boy ‘dehumanises’ those with the condition – Evening Standard

A row has broken out over the use of a puppet to portray an autistic boy in a new play with critics saying it “dehumanises” those with the condition.

The National Autistic Society is among those to criticise the use of the puppet, saying it cannot “support” the show.

All In A Row, which stars former East-Enders actress Charlie Brooks as the mother of a severely autistic son, is set to open later this month at Southwark Playhouse. It is written by Alex Oates, who was inspired by his own time working as a carer. A puppet portrays the character of Laurence, who is described as “autistic, non-verbal and occasionally violent”.

Jane Harris, director of external affairs at the National Autistic Society, said: “About 700,000 people in the UK are autistic and most feel very misunderstood by the public. That’s why we give advice to production companies about ideas and scripts for TV, film and theatre to help them promote accurate images of autistic people.

“The production company behind this play contacted us and we arranged for autistic and non-autistic people to give feedback. We are pleased the production company made two changes in response — one for accuracy and another around representation.

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