Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
It is a most riveting story of journey and quest of Christopher Boone (Adam Langdon), a British adolescent. He is a math genius but runs into trouble trying to have a normal conversation. The play opens when as a neighbor's dead dog, with a garden fork in its side, rests on the stage. It is thought that Christopher has killed the pet and the boy is taken to a police station. After his father Ed (Tim Wright on opening night at the Bushnell) takes him home, the plot begins to escalate. Christopher seeks to figure out who did away with the dog, whether his own mother (Felicity Jones Latta) really did pass away, and much more. He is assisted by an instructor, Siobhan (Maria Elena Ramirez), who, early on, reads to the audience from words Christopher has written. After intermission, it becomes apparent that she convinced the boy to transform text into script.
Langdon's Christopher is fully present each moment of his life but he cannot bear to have someone touch him. He speaks too loudly, overreacts to stimuli, and will do most anything, as the second act evolves, to discover truth. Did his mother really write him multiple letters while away and has his father been lying to him? In order to search, Christopher must navigate, through the subway system, from his hometown of Swindon and well into London. A young man who is dextrous with mathematical problems and who intends to become a scientist, he is beset with anxiety within his personal day-to-day existence.
Elevating all of this from page to stage are director Marianne Elliott and Bunny Christie, the designer who furnishes a grid-like rear wall and stage. Augmented by spectacular lighting by Paule Constable, video design by Finn Ross, and music by Adrian Sutton, the effects are stunning. Ian Dickinson is in charge of sound design, and noise is acute and extreme. The assault attempts to approximate just what Christopher must face as he attempts, through his perspective, to make sense of life.
Thus, the plot and special effects combine to create a sensory experience which cannot possibly be overstated. The story is also fueled by neighbor Mrs. Shears (Charlotte Maier), whose dog was the early victim. Christopher's father (Wright) and mother (Latta) care deeply for the brilliant yet troubled young person.
Despite its many positives, the first portion of The Curious Incident seems to run longer than its actual time of just over an hour. A large theater, such as the Bushnell, affords one the opportunity to grasp the entirety of the many dimensions of the show; one does feel distant, though, even from mid-row orchestra seats, to those performing on stage.
Adam Langdon is versatile and splendid as Christopher. The actor is suitably perturbed, quirky, passionate, and eager. He flies from one emotion and response to the next with impressive vitality. The supporting and surrounding personnel, too, are upper level.
This is not an easy show; it is multi-layered and probably would be difficult for children to fathom. Christopher's emotions and thought process throw mental roadblocks before him as he attempts to traverse. He is, however, a driven human being and one who has the will to succeed.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues at the Bushnell in Hartford through January 1st, 2016. For tickets, visit bushnell.org or call (860) 987-5900. For more information on the tour, visit curiousonbroadway.com/tour.php.