Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Directors Ryan Rilette and Jared Mezzocchi are working with a powerful ensemble cast, anchored by the riveting Harrison Bryan in Stephens' adaptation of Mark Haddon's 2003 novel about a teenage boy, who appears to be on the autism spectrum, navigating the world around him. Bryan is Christopher Boone, a genius at math but unable to deal with everyday communication. (To him, there's a clear-cut distinction between truth and lies, and he is mystified when trying to decode common idioms and metaphors. Math, on the other hand, is exact and easy for him to understand.)
Christopher is recounting his experiences in a book for his teacher Siobhan (warmly empathetic Tessa Klein), beginning with his discovery that someone killed his neighbor's dog. Determined to solve the crime as Sherlock Holmes would do, he angers his father (Cody Nickell, frustrated yet loving) and learns a lot about both himself and his place in the world. Tonya Beckman gives an affecting performance as an important woman in Christopher's life, who doesn't appear until late in the play.
The story unfolds from Christopher's point of view, conveyed through Bryan's every facial expression and overriding sense of rigid physical control, but amplified through Mezzocchi's projections that bring the audience inside the character's brain. Images appear on Paige Hathaway's set of stacked white boxes as if drawn in chalk on a blackboardpictures, writing, videogame screens, and locations both familiar and newand even the sound of audio static is given a visual equivalent. Choreographers Colette Krogol and Matt Reeves of Orange Grove Dance allow Bryan to float weightlessly in space.
In keeping with Christopher's difficulty with recognizing people, Stephens uses six actors (Laura C. Harris, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Cody LeRoy Wilson, Eric Hissom, Kathryn Tkel, Kimberly Schraf) to represent the other people in the character's world, from neighbors to police officers, and even actors.
Sherrice Mojgani's lighting design and Andre Pluess' sound design intensify the audience's disorientation, as well as providing moments of shattering clarity.
Round House Theatre