Thursday, March 12, 2015

On Broadway- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


It's great when I can combine my love of books with my love of Broadway in one post. A few years ago, I read Mark Haddon's remarkable novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, told in the voice of a 15-year-old autistic boy.

The boy is found next to the body of a neighbor's dog who has been stabbed and killed with a garden fork, and Christopher is at first thought to have done the deed. He is cleared of the crime and then decides that he will find the culprit himself since no one else appears interested.

The Broadway show, a transplant from Britain where it won every award possible, is a brilliantly conceived and executed show. It manages to take us right inside the mind of an autistic teen, and even more successfully than the book, we can hear and see how overwhelming the stimuli of a train station can be as staged in this show.

The scene in the train station is a cacophony of flashing lights and extremely loud sounds. And when Christopher descends on a escalator that appears magically out of nowhere, you could hear gasps from the audience.(I would compare it to the magic carpet in Aladdin, but even more amazing.)

Because the novel tells the story in Christopher's voice, we generally only get his point of view. In the stage show, I think we feel more of the emotions of the other characters- his mother and father, the older neighbor and his teacher. There is great sympathy for how Christopher's autism affected his parents.

Christopher can't stand to be touched, and is a math genius. His primal screams when he is touched ring through the theater, and it brings insight into how it must feel.

The show really depends on the actor who plays Christopher to succeed, and Alex Sharp is absolutely amazing in the role. It is an incredibly physically and emotionally role, and there is another actor who plays the role on matinee days because it is so demanding. I can't imagine that Sharp won't be recognized come awards season.

Ian Barford and Enid Graham, as Christopher's parents, are also wonderful at portraying the anguish and difficulty of their situation.

The staging of the show is stunning and inventive, allowing us right into Christopher's world, through his eyes.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a powerful, emotional piece of theater that resonates long after the show ends. This is a show that is worth seeing even at full-price, though discount tickets are available.

The show's website is here.

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