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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 28, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 30
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a curious incident
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a curious incident

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Through July 30


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the Tony winning play that is causing many discussions wherever it goes. Based on the best selling novella, the play's subject is being talked about as much as the innovative staging of the show itself. Currently playing at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, the play is bound to leave any audience member seeing it to become lost in thought for a while afterwards.

The story centers around Christopher Boone, a '15 years, three quarters and two weeks' old English boy who has a particular type of either Asperger or high-functioning autism (it never is defined in the play). Christopher describes himself as a 'mathematician with some difficulties.' When the play opens, Christopher has discovered the next-door-neighbor's dead dog on the lawn killed by a 'garden [pitch] fork.' At first stunned by the discovery, Christopher decides to go 'detecting' to find out who killed the dog and why. As Christopher's investigation goes further, he accidentally uncovers more secrets than just who killed the dog.

The ensemble cast is more of a single unit with small solo spot-lights. They form the collective group of people in Christopher's life, and all have single moments of interaction with the boy. Most everyone in the cast (with Christopher being the exception) pull double duty playing multiple roles. All members of the ensemble are good, adding subtle performances and nuances to enhance the main characters.

Maria Elena Ramirez plays Siobhan, a friend and teacher for Christopher, and acts as a sort of narrator for the show. Ms. Ramirez brings a tenderness to the role creating an air of genuine care for Christopher. She encourages the boy to explore his thoughts and to record them, which become the basis for the play.

The role of Christopher Boone is played by Adam Langdon (and alternatively Benjamin Wheelwright at certain performances). Mr. Langdon's performance as the autistic Christopher (as seen on opening night) is definitely something to marvel at. He embodies the sensitivities and peculiarities of someone with autism with great care. His stage presence is strong, which is good because he is in every scene of the show. Mr. Langdon changed in a moment from going about his business to curled into a ball, yelling and resisting any form of touch from outsiders.

The unspoken main character of the show is clearly the set, the staging and the direction. The entire play is told from the viewpoint of Christopher's autism and the creative team brings the audience into the working mind of the boy. The scenes and costumes are designed by Bunny Christie with video design by Finn Ross. The stage is a large box completely in black and white and looking like a 'light-bright' set of yesteryear. It is used most creatively by showing the images forming in Christopher's mind as he draws out thoughts on the floor, simultaneously appearing on the wall behind so the audience can further understand the intricacies of his mind. Numbers, images, lights and sound flash across the wall to show the fast-paced and different ways an autistic mind works.

The direction is under the eye of Marianne Elliot. She should definitely be commended for the unique vision this show brings to the stage. Placing the ensemble on stage (most of the time) Ms. Elliot has it staged so that the cast depicts certain movements to mimic what is going on in Christopher's mind. In order to show that, lights, sounds, flashes, words and images are projected (sometimes at breakneck speed) with such intensity that it can be overwhelming to the audience. This, of course, is the point; to demonstrate - even for a moment - of how the brains of people, with some types of autism, functions. Although the staging is done very well as is the direction, by the time I left the theatre, I was grateful for the quiet interior of my car and the silent ride home.



The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time first opened on Broadway on October 5, 2014 where it ran for just shy of two years. Based on the novel by the same name, the play was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning five including Best Play of 2015. In London, it held the record for the most Olivier Award nominations in 2013.

The play (written by Simon Stephens) is based on the 2003 book by the same name written by Mark Haddon. Hailed as a mystery, it was unusually released in two separate editions, both Adult and Young Adult genres. The year it was published in the U.K. It won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book, the Whitbread Book Award for Best Novel of the Year and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

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