Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


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

Also see Patrick's review of Splendour and Richard's review of The Girl I Meant to Be, How to Be a White Man, The Legend of Georgia McBride


Maria Elena Ramirez, Gene Gillette,
and Adam Langdon (front)

Photo by Joan Marcus
Golden Gate Theatre is presenting the the National Theatre touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The play is about a teenage boy named Christopher who has difficulty distinguishing expressed emotions from his surroundings. As he discovers his neighbor's dog dead in the garden, Christopher becomes an amateur detective and ends up on expedition that will challenge him beyond his imagination.

Adapted by playwright Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon's book of the same name, The Curious Incident is powerful drama. It is a prime example of theatrical magic. Directed by Marianne Elliott, the production is outstanding in its efforts to merge the technical departments of design, lighting, sound and projection to create a hugely imaginative set. It's done on a bare stage with box props and interesting projections on the walls. Bunny Christie's unusual scenic design allows Christopher's world to effectively come to life for the audience. Combined with Paule Constable's dazzling lighting design and Finn Ross's video design, the production is most impressive.

Christopher is immersed in the world of mathematics. He takes comfort in prime numbers when he's distraught and overstimulated; a labyrinth of quadratic equations yield sheer joy when he solves them. We first see a canine corpse on stage. The two and a half hour play, with intermission, starts with some cluttered storytelling and accents all over the map. It eventually calms down and becomes far more involving. The second act, in which Christopher starts his terrifying journey to London, is great theatre. Those sections are mesmerizing and dynamic, thanks to choreographers Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett who amp up the movement, and Ian Dickenson turning up the sound.

Adam Langdon gives a brilliant performance as Christopher. On stage for the whole play, he speaks with an extravagant stilted delivery and an impeccable mid-English accent. The ensemble of 13 wonderful actors and actresses take on numerous roles. Maria Elena Ramirez is appealing as Siobhan, Christopher's teacher. Gene Gillette as Christopher's father had sound problems at the beginning of first act at the performance I attended and I could not hear what he was saying. It soon cleared up toward the end of the first act and he gave a glowing performance as the father. Felicity Jones Latta gives a vibrant performance as Christopher's mother. Amelia White, Kathy McCaffery, John Hemphill, Brian Robert Burns, Francesca Choy-Kee, Josephine Hall, Robyn Kerr, Tim McKiernan, J. Paul Nicholas, and Tim Wright take on various roles and they are pitch perfect in each.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, at the Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor Street, San Francisco, through July 23, 2017. For tickets call 888-746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com. For more information on the tour, visit www.curiousonbroadway.com. SHN will present the Something Rotten tour at SHN Orpheum Theatre August 15 through September 10.


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