Words like breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and touching only begin to describe the epic journey experienced in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, currently playing at the Academy of Music. The story follows fifteen-year-old Christopher, a science and math genius on the autism spectrum, who decides to investigate the mysterious death of his neighbor’s dog. The story explores his relationships with his parents, his teachers, and his community as he struggles to find truth and success in a world that doesn’t always understand the way his mind works. With its innovative design and directing elements, this play is a feast both for the eyes and for the soul.
Based on an award-winning novel by British author Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident… has enjoyed successful runs on London’s West End (winning seven Olivier Awards including Best New Play) and Broadway (earning five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards including Best Play at both). This production is a part of the national tour of the show, and is being featured by the Kimmel Center as a part of their Broadway Philadelphia series.
Adam Langdon was a true master of his craft on stage as Christopher Boone. His portrayal of the brilliant and lovable character was detailed and realistic, from the smallest tick to the largest episode. Langdon seamlessly transitioned from performing daring lifts and stunts to having quiet moments without missing a beat. He found a way to make a character that has trouble relating to people feel incredibly relatable, which is an impressive feat to manage.
Another wonderful performance was Maria Elena Ramirez as Siobhan, who acted not only as Christopher’s school mentor, but also at points during the show narrated the action, or even spoke for Christopher himself. Ramirez gave a warming sense of comfort to the scenes she was in, and made you trust in how much she cared for Christopher.
Gene Gillette as Ed and Felicity Jones Latta as Judy brought their parental figures to life on stage in a way that truly made my heart ache. Their portrayal of their characters’ inner turmoil, as they vacillated between love for Christopher and frustration with his behavior, was simply beautiful. Amelia White, as the compassionate neighbor Mrs. Alexander, helped to heal this heartache. With a warm and soft demeanor, she made her character intensely likable, almost as if she was everyone’s beloved grandmother.
The unsung heroes of the evening, though, were the impeccable ensemble of the show. They brought director Marianne Elliott and movement choreographers Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett’s ingenious blocking to life by operating like a well-oiled machine. Their swift movements seemed to flow as seamlessly as water, perfectly timed and expertly crafted. Hats off to Elliott, Graham, and Hoggett for their stunning work bringing the surreal world that Christopher experienced to life in the bodies of these actors.
The design for this production was a dazzling spectacle to behold. Bunny Christie’s set design was perfectly malleable, featuring sleek and clean boxes stacked in numerous ways to set different locations, and the walls and floors showed everything from a simple mathematical grid to a swirling outer space scene. Christie’s costume designs also found power in their simplicity, allowing ensemble members to take on their many characters and forms easily. All of this was intensified by the remarkable lighting design by Paul Constable and video design by Finn Ross. Colorful light displays added to the mood and energy of the scenes, while eye-catching video projections helped to create entirely new worlds on stage.
Not only was the production visually appealing, but all the various sounds used also heavily aided the creation of Christopher’s world. Adrian Sutton’s music, along with the sound design of Ian Dickinson, helped to inform the audience of the swirl of emotions going on inside of Christopher, from light, fun melodies when he was happy to anxiously chaotic sounds when he was spiraling out of control.
If you want a once-in-a-lifetime theatre experience please run, do not walk, over to the Academy of Music to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time!
Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time plays through March 5, 2017, and is presented by The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at the Academy of Music – 204 South Broad Street, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the box office at (215) 893-1999, or purchase them online.