Another National Theatre production has made its way to American shores in the Broadway mounting of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. As an Anglophile with no money for British Airways tickets, (and as someone who missed out on NT Live’s filmed performance), I was more than happy to catch the stateside version of Curious Incident, which is currently playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the novel of the same name, follows Christopher (Alex Sharp), a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who discovers the dead body of his neighbor’s dog. Christopher is determined to find the dog’s killer, despite his father’s warnings not to. As he journals the story of his investigation with his teacher Siobhan (Francesca Faridany), Christopher uncovers family secrets, discovers more about himself, and finds that maybe he can do anything–and sitting for A-level Maths is only the beginning.
As a novel, Curious Incident’s strength was immersing the reader into the mind of an autistic teenager. The play does it one better, immersing the audience member not only into Christopher’s mind, but also his heart. Alex Sharp’s performance as Christopher is one of the best I’ve seen on stage–even more remarkable since it’s his Broadway debut. His Christopher is not a simplistic rendering of someone autistic–he’s neither a quirky maverick or a disturbed troublemaker. Instead, he’s a complex character whose autism can be a source of constant struggle, but can also bring him to achieve remarkable things.
The other stars of Curious Incident are the genius set, lighting and video designers (Bunny Christie, Paule Constable, and Finn Ross, respectively). The Tron-style grid that makes up the stage on all sides resembles an old game console before you press “Start.” But it quickly becomes a thing of delight, with hidden drawers in floors and walls, lights that can change your mood with a single cue, and projections that make the London Underground come alive. The innovative, transformative nature of Curious Incident‘s set is something that needs to happen more often on Broadway.
Curious Incident is a visually stunning work of theatre that will also give you all the feelings. If you need to see one play this season, this is the one. And if you do, be sure to stay in your seats after the curtain call for a special surprise.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is now playing on Broadway. For more information, click here.