Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
National Tour
Review by Gil Benbrook | Season Schedule


Adam Langdon
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The ability to see inside another person's head and understand their thoughts and feelings is something usually left to novels or films, with their implicit ability to verbalize or visualize these elements. Yet the theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon's bestselling book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time also manages to accomplish this feat in an exceptional way as it demonstrates the inner workings of the brain of a 15-year-old boy with issues that resemble autism through a combination of visual and aural designs and the use of imaginatively choreographed movement. The drama won a slew of awards in both its London and Broadway runs, including the Tony Award for Best Play, and the national tour of the show is in Phoenix for just a week. It is definitely a play unlike just about anything I've ever seen and a show not to be missed.

The plot focuses on Christopher Boone and begins when his neighbor's dog is found viciously murdered. Christopher sets about trying to solve the murder of the animal while also dealing with understanding and navigating through the wide range of human emotions and family dynamics that his unique situation entails. Christopher, who always tells the truth, soon discovers that what he learns from his investigation reveals several secrets and lies that involve his family and the life he thought he knew.

Part detective story, part emotional family drama, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, as adapted by Simon Stephens, sticks to the novel fairly closely, and even uses much of the book's dialogue. The concise and straightforward language and the well-defined characters are delivered and portrayed exceptionally by a talented touring cast. Yet it is through the explosion of sight and sound that the book is truly brought to life by immersing the audience in non-stop visual elements that take us inside Christopher's mind. The combination of the gifted cast and the creative designs gives a unique glimpse into how a person's inability to understand human emotion might affect the people who love them.

Marianne Elliott won a Tony for her direction and it's easy to see why. Elliott's ability to guide her cast—especially Adam Langdon, who is nothing short of brilliant—as Christopher, to deliver performances that are real, interesting, and full of emotion, and then surround it all with the immersive, creative and accomplished Tony and Olivier Award winning work of set designer Bunny Christie, video designer Finn Ross, and lighting designer Paule Constable, is both inspired and brilliant. With the addition of stylized movement by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, eerie and futuristic music by Adrian Sutton, and a unique sound design by Ian Dickinson, a theatrical experience is created that captures Christopher's inquisitive mind, his high intelligence, and heightened sense of imagination. The ability to portray the bombardment of sights and sounds one experiences when walking through a train station and boarding the London Underground, or the sense of flight that a young boy dreams of are just two of the imaginative moments that Christopher experiences that this production beautifully captures on stage.

Langdon brings a beautiful childlike playfulness to Christopher in addition to being utterly convincing as the highly intelligent and excitable yet emotionally vacant boy. Langdon's ability to quickly recite mathematical equations and lists of numbers while delivering a keen sense of a life centered around logic but void of emotion and incapable of normal social interaction, while delivering physical ticks and emotional outbursts, makes for an utterly convincing portrayal. Gene Gillette and Felicity Jones Latta are quite good as his complicated and multi-layered parents. The several scenes they have where they are reaching out for some sense of human connection from their son, yet know he will become an emotional wreck if touched, are heartbreaking. Maria Elena Ramirez and Amelia White provide a huge amount of compassion and a nice amount of humanity as his school teacher and next door neighbor.

This is a truly engaging, rich and rewarding play with a thought-provoking insight into what an individual with such challenges might go through on a daily basis and what the impact on those who love them might be. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time lets you step into this world and see the beauty and wonder that lives inside.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs through June 25th, 2017, at ASU Gammage located at 1200 S. Forest Avenue in Tempe. Tickets can be purchased at www.asugammage.com or by calling 480 965-3434. For more information on the tour, visit curiousonbroadway.com.

Written By Simon Stephens
Based On The Novel By Mark Haddon
Director: Marianne Elliott
Scenic and Costume Designer: Bunny Christie
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Video Designer: Finn Ross
Choreography: Scott Graham And Steven Hoggett For Frantic Assembly
Music: Adrian Sutton
Sound Designer: Ian Dickinson For Autograph
Hair Designer: David Brian Brown

Cast:
Christopher Boone: Adam Langdon
Siobhan: Maria Elena Ramirez
Ed: Gene Gillette
Judy: Felicity Jones Latta
Mrs. Alexander: Amelia White
Ensemble: John Hemphill, Brian Robert Burns, Francesca Choy-Kee, Geoffrey Wade, Robyn Kerr, Kathy Mccafferty, J. Paul Nicholas


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