Regional Reviews: Phoenix
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 castespecially Adam Langdon, who is nothing short of brilliantas 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