Curious…I’m Begging You To See This…

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I spent the other night in sensory overload…I was mesmerized by a dazzling new play on Broadway.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the most engrossing shows that I have seen.

Not only is it visually stimulating, but the story will break your heart.

Based on the 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon with the title borrowed from a Sherlock Holmes tale, the play centers around Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s who is “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties.” Christopher resides with his dad as his mother allegedly died in the hospital two years ago.

However, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is not about Asperger’s specifically, but rather it is about difference. We all crave love, security and independence, but through Christopher’s eyes, we see the world we know in a curious and more challenging way.

The British transplant opened on Broadway this week. Director Marianne Elliott, who also directed the truly amazing play, War Horse (the movie sucked), says she wanted to create an environment that puts the audience inside Christopher’s mind. The play is chaotic, fast paced…even frenetic.

A gifted cast brings all the components together. The story involves a broken family whose wounds are still festering. Key is the actor portraying Christopher who is continually onstage.

Alex Sharp
photo: standard.co.uk

Alex Sharp, the 25-year-old youthful looking Juilliard grad who plays the part of Christopher, is phenomenal. Sharp delivers an incredibly warm and sympathetic performance as someone who, ironically, has no capacity for empathy and shuns physical contact.

Much of Christopher’s narrative is given to his special education teacher, Siobhan. She’s the person in the novel who encourages the boy to write about his experiences.

“In some ways, she’s the bridge, really, for the audience to get inside his mind,” says Francesca Faridany, who plays Siobhan in the Broadway production. “And she starts off as a narrator and then it’s clear that she’s so many more things than that and somehow finds her way into his mind.”

The outstanding cast also includes his mother, played by Enid Graham and Ian Barford as his father, Ed. Both parents give emotionally charged performances.

The creative design team provide a mathematical variation on the black box theater with the walls of the set lined like graph paper.

As Christopher navigates his way through an increasingly unfamiliar landscape, both physical and emotional, the events unfold visually within the confines of the black box.

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photo: nytimes.com

Life is messy in ways that graphs cannot accommodate. When chaos comes, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, explodes whether the setting is a London subway or a room at home in which Christopher uncovers a cache of letters he didn’t know existed.

“We designed the set to be like his brain, a little bit,” the director Elliott says. “He loves math and he loves science and he loves graph paper. So the set is really four walls of graph paper, in its most basic form. And actually, beyond that, it’s also a bit of a magic box; it’s a magic brain. It has wonderful things in that brain that are surprising.”

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photo: officialtheatre.com

This is an engaging, authentic story of how a quirky teenage boy clings to order, deals with a family crisis and tries to make sense of the world as he sees it.

More importantly, it also provides profound insight into a disorder that leaves those who have it struggling to perceive even the most basic of human emotions and gives us a greater appreciation of our own ability to feel, express and interpret emotions.

The show ends on a positive note. Do not leave the premises immediately. Wait for the unexpected encore scene which adds pure delight to the experience.

curious

One Comment

  1. Paula Lopez says:

    A wonderful review-reviewed wonderfully.

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