Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Broadway production received the 1915 Tony Award for best drama. The script by Simon Stephens is based on the novel by Mark Haddon, and the title comes from Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 Sherlock Holmes short story "Silver Blaze."
The story deals with Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy who appears to be on the autism spectrum. The play opens suddenly, with deafening blasts of music and flashing lights. The videos playing on the set add to the confusion, with designs folding in on themselves.
Even while the audience was gathering, a dog lay on the stage with a pitchfork through its body. The dog, Wellington, had been murdered by someone and Christopher goes about attempting to solve this murder mystery. He investigates through the neighborhood, meeting many of his neighbors for the first time. While playing detective, Christopher keeps notes, which take the form of a book.
Christopher has difficulties meeting with his neighbors and asking about the murder of Wellington. But his strong motivation leads him to play the sleuth and find the killer. One of the first people Christopher interviews is Mrs. Alexander, who tells him his mother had an affair with Mr. Shearers and they had moved to London to live together. But Christopher knows they aren't living together, because his father told Christopher that Judy, his mother, was dead.
Christopher's father Ed discovers the book Christopher is writing and takes it. Christopher searches for his manuscript and discovers letters his mother wrote him after the time his father said she died. Christopher leaves home with and goes to London and the address on the letters. His journey and what happens after are satisfying parts of this play.
Several people are responsible for the success of this production. Bunny Christie (scenic and costume design), Paule Constable (lighting design), Finn Ross (video design), and Ian Dickinson (sound design) give the audience a view into a life of someone who is autistic. Their work helps the audience see what such experiences might be like.
On opening night, Adam Langdon played Christopher, a role that has extreme physical demands, which Langdon is able to meet. In addition, the role has strong vocal demands: screaming, yelling and whimpering. Langdon meets those requirements, too. Gene Gillette is excellent as Ed, the father. This role is physically and vocally demanding, too. Felicity Jones Latta makes Judy a compassionate mother.
Most of the actors play two or more characters. This talented group plays a variety of characters without leaving the audience thinking, "Here he/she comes again as someone else." I suspect the audience members are never confused by who is playing what roles. Each character is well defined.
Much of the praise for this satisfying production must go to Marianne Elliott, the director.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, through April 9, 2017, at Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For ticket Information: call 216-640-8800 or visit www.playhousesquare.org/broadway. For information on the tour, visit curiousonbroadway.com.
Based on the novel by Mark Haddon