“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” has totally captured both critic and audience. No doubt in anyone’s mind; this is the play to see this Broadway season. Another “Brit on Broadway” import, and a story of such universal importance and reach . We all relate, its ideas cross borders, it strikes a major chord while playing in a minor key – and hits us in our core. How often does THAT happen?
This drama perfects what I term the “essential p’s” – plot, production and performance. All three of these elements magnificently align for a moving, perfect whole in this absorbing drama. The story in truth is relatively simple – but that is not necessarily the point here. Nothing better when you arrive home all jazzed up from an evening of theater, and it dawns on you much later why exactly you couldn’t sleep that night. This show is ripe for discussion; you’ve just got to talk about it. So thank you Jess for allowing me to get my thoughts out on paper.
In the case of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, the breath taking pace of today’s technology creatively captures the story line, and indeed this is what captures our minds in addition to our hearts. In many of the stage scenes, you feel like you have left terra firma, and are inside your computer’s hard drive, observing as well as participating in its inner workings. Not only do lighting effects and imaginative staging dynamically augment this contemporary story, but in the case of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” it dominates this particular production. There simply is no other way to tell this tale involving so much motion and emotion – both externally and internally – without pushing the limits of lighting and staging.
Nothing better when you arrive home all jazzed up from an evening of theater, and it dawns on you much later why exactly you couldn’t sleep that night.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog….” is based on a mesmerizing, successful novel – written uniquely in the first person singular – of the same title. It centers, literally and figuratively, on an autistic teenager, Christopher Boone – who is indeed a first person singular in every possible way, a beautiful being. He discovers his neighbor’s dead dog one shocking morning, and this provides the backdrop for an intelligent, thrilling, emotional journey.. Christopher is what is termed an “idiot savant” – his particular genius is math, he is a geometrically walking trigonometry table. Math never lies and an innocent like Christopher can only understand truth. He is disturbed and touched by this dog’s untimely death. So he decides to use complex mathematical formulas (aren’t you slightly jealous of people who can take Pi beyond the usual 3.14 ?!!) and must leave his comfort zone to solve this crime. Genius as he is in mathematics, Christopher cannot understand simple daily activities and has never traveled by himself, let alone outside his neighborhood. He lives in his own specialized autistic world with his Father as sole parent, and he is about to cross boundaries and meet people way beyond his small universe.
HINT: what is essential to the heart and mind is invisible. Doubtful any mathematical equation could be more slight…yet more complex. From the ordinary to the extraordinary…..with so many stops along the way. Yet sometimes you have to go in complete circles before you get anywhere. This story of love, family, survival is a complete experience, you feel entirely satisfied, a rich completeness as the curtain drops. It’s a contemporary catharsis of which ancient Aristotle would mightily approve. Such pathos, I was searching for my Kleenex.
I reserve solo special raves for Alex Sharp, a recent Juilliard Drama School Grad playing the teenage lead. He is BEYOND amazing, what an auspicious Broadway debut. Personally I think (as do those in the know) a Tony nomination, if not a win, is assured. Such a physical role, he is in every scene – in mind and matter. And BOTH matter on stage. Keen intelligence as well as stamina is required for the portrayal of an autistic savant teenager, this is a challenge for any actor, let alone one spanking new to the boards. Bravo Alex, you are fantastic.
The rest of the cast – who assume multiple roles in this show – surely deserve great praise. Particularly stand out are Mercedes Herrero, Richard Hollis and Francesca Faridany who plays Siobhan, Alex’s oft quoted teacher. Be apprised, at the Sunday matinee and Wednesday evening performance, Taylor Trensch will play the part of Christopher.
It bears repeating…you have to find a new way to tell a story, an innovative manner. The playwright, Simon Stephens, has done just that with this bold, daunting play, a novel approach to a novel! Broadway is catching up to film and its imaginative use of today’s technology, not only in musicals which it serves so well, but in straight dramas.
WARINING: Just when you think the show is over, and the well earned applause has stopped, stick around. You are in for a treat! I’ll say no more except stay put and enjoy this interesting sidebar. Intriguing, right?!
Have you seen the show or read the book? Let’s chat in the comments below!
By: Joanne Thedorou