|The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
posted by Ralph Malachowski on Mar 6, 2017 10:30am | comments
Everyone wants to be in it, and no one wants to be without it, but what happens when love isn’t a two-way street? What happens when love is altruistic, all-consuming, and almost always unappreciated? The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, from the National Theatre of Great Britain explores the outer limits of love. It is now on tour, and is at the Philadelphia Academy of Music only until March 5.
Based upon the novel by Mark Haddon published in 2003, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was first adapted for the stage in 2010 by playwright Simon Stephens. It was a hit on Broadway in 2014, where it ran for two years, winning the Tony Award for Best New Play in 2015. We are now seeing this production on its national tour.
In short, the story deals with Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old who we discover isn’t a typical British teenager. Christopher is brilliantly played by Adam Langdon in a tour-de-force performance (Benjamin Wheelwright alternates in the role). In bygone times (during my grandparents’ time a hundred years ago), he might have been considered retarded or simple. Think Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, for instance. Today, we immediately think Autism, although the word is never spoken in the play. Christopher is gifted out of all proportions in some things, while many of the quotidian demands of life totally escape his ability. We meet Christopher trying to solve a mystery, and discover how he’s been wronged by his mother, and even his martyr of a father. Both had been under relentless pressure of the 24/7 demands of their impossibly demanding son. Mother chose one way of escape, while father stayed to dedicate his life to loving Christopher unconditionally.
The story fascinates, what with the vagaries of Christopher’s mind, and how he reads reality as sifted through his alternative thought processes. Christopher never lies. Lies are for adults, as we find out as they so often do in this play. Police officers also repeatedly come across less than flatteringly as clueless, insensitive, dangerous and aggressive goons. At times, the story overextends itself into needless reiteration; yes, we see how Christopher’s issues involve overstimulation, and we see it again, and again, and again. Ameliorating this repetition is the brilliant scenic and lighting design by Bunnie Christie, Paule Constable, and Finn Ross. Other standout performances in the large and talented cast include Charlotte Maier, Maria Elena Ramirez, Brian Robert Burns, John Hemphill, and Gene Gillette.
Not an easy play by any means, it follows in the footsteps of other timely dramas which dealt with other timely topics such as Children of a Lesser God or The Normal Heart. Whether or not you like it, love it, or are annoyed by it, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is compelling theatre beautifully acted and thrillingly presented.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is part of Broadway Philadelphia, a Kimmel Center series. Future presentations will include The King and I, Wicked, Cabaret, Fun Home, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and more. For more information about these productions and ticket availability, visit www.kimmelcenter.org