Review: The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Ethel Barrymore Theatre

Spectacular and marvelously fresh and inventive, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time explores the mind of an incredibly intelligent but socially inept young man with what seems like high-functioning autism or Asperger’s. When the neighbor’s dog is killed with a pitchfork – or a “garden fork” as they call it in this British import – 15-year-old Christopher sets about finding out who did the dastardly deed, with unexpected results. This is based on a popular young adult novel, so everything turns out for the best in the end, even if we get to some decidedly uncomfortable places in the middle.

Director Marianne Elliott has fashioned staging for Curious Incident that is relentlessly, busily ingenious – even as it successfully tells a very human story. Against designer Bunny Christie’s austere black-and-white grid, video designer Finn Ross composes rich and varied moving images, exploding the grid’s rigid order. The video and set really take off in the second act, as the frantic chaos of London’s transportation system shocks the hypersensitive Christopher.

But all of this would be for naught if it weren’t for dramatist Simon Stephens’s briskly energetic adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel, and especially for Alex Sharp’s remarkable performance as Christopher. Sharp’s quirky body language and clipped vocal delivery eloquently conveys the truth of a boy whose inner life isn’t in line with ordinary psychology – while remarkably tugging at our sympathies at every possible turn.

All in all, a truly phenomenal and invigorating evening in the theatre. Highly recommended.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.

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