Theater Review: “Curious Incident”

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A captivating theatrical experience with a stimulating storyline.

TPAC’s Broadway Series presents:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (April 25-30; Ages 12 & older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25 – $68

Once in a while an outstanding work of theatrical art comes along that undeniably raises the bar and becomes an immediate favorite. That’s the case with the spellbinding production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

It’s not surprising that Curious Incident won five 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Play. Based on Mark Haddon’s 2003 best-selling mystery novel of the same name, Simon Stephens’ masterful play takes the audience on an intense, highly charged journey through the mind of 15-year-old Christopher Boone (Adam Langdon).

However, Christopher isn’t your typical teen. Although it never forthright says so, Curious Incident implies Christopher is on the autism spectrum, and plenty of his unique characteristics support the notion. Extreme sensory issues are prevalent — he can’t stand being touched to the point of becoming physically violent; loud noises debilitate him; and he can’t abide the colors brown and yellow. Metaphors confuse him, he’s a mathematical genius and he finds comfort in facts.

Langdon skillful portrayal — from his physical dexterity and mannerisms to his precise enunciation of words — pulls you into the vortex of Christopher’s mind, and he has you pulling for him all the way.

More Than Meets the Eye

With a nod to Sherlock Holmes, Christopher fixates on finding the killer of his next door neighbor’s dog, Wellington. At the beginning, he’s the one under suspicion but sets out against his father’s wishes to discover who did it. More suspense unfolds along the way, which I can’t tell you about without spoiling the experience for you. Trust me when I say you’ll be on the edge of your seat.

The play explores the relationships in Christopher’s life, including his father (Gene Gillette), mother (Felicity Jones Latta) and teacher Siobhan. Maria Elena Ramirez takes the latter role and brings a great deal of warmth to the stage as she also helps narrate the story.

Stunning Effects

Considering the central figure’s issues with sensory stimulation, Curious Incident’s combination of set design, lighting, video projections and music add a powerful multi-sensory experience for the audience. A larger than life black box of mathematical grids brilliantly represents Christopher’s mind. Throughout the journey, the multi-functional set piece comes to life with colored LED lights, glowing border cubes and a variety of projections all enhancing the drama. Furthermore, the utilization of techno music underscoring help depict Christopher’s breakdowns during moments of sensory overload.

Curious Incident offers a little bit of everything — drama, comedy, mystery, suspense, vibrant visuals and many thought-provoking moments that encourage self-reflection. There’s nary a lull in the production, and upon my first experience, it’s instantly become my favorite straight play.

P.S., stick around for a minute after the curtain call…

 

 

 

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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