Laurence (All in a Row)

From Autistic characters wiki
Portrayed by Hugh Purves (puppeteer)
Appears in All in a Row
Year 2014

Laurence is a main character in the British play All in a Row.

Character creation

The play is inspired by director Alex Oates' own experience with working with autistic children for over 10 years.[1] The production company contacted the National Autistic Society (NAS) for feedback. While some changes were made based on the feedback, NAS in the end decided to not support the show due to its portrayal of autism.[2] It took 2 years of developing the puppet, and there are technical reasons for why it looks the way it does. There are also 2 autistic people on the creative team.[3]


The story takes place on the night before 11-year-old Laurence goes to a residential home, and the impact that has on his family.


Whereas the other characters are played by real people, Laurence is represented by a life-size puppet, operated by puppeteer Hugh Purves. The puppet has a grey-ish skintone.


Laurence is described as "autistic, non-verbal, and occasionally violent".[4]


Among other things, the choice to have Laurence portrayed by an puppet rather than a real child actor drew significant controversy and sparked the Twitter hashtag #puppetgate. It has been described as a grotesque step backwards[5] and dehumanizing.[6] Pictures of the R&D stage of the puppet used to represent Laurence[7] have been described as nightmare fuel.[8] Actress Charlie Brooks, who plays Laurence's mother Tamora, urged people to watch the play first before casting judgement.[9] Artistic director Chris Smyrnios defended his position, saying that it was for child protection due to the mature themes of the play and physicality of the role.[10][11]