Nora Dominick ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
“I see everything!” Proclaims Christopher Boone as he is riding on his first ever train-ride into the heart of London. “Most other people are lazy. They never look at everything,” he continues. “They do what is called glancing, which is the same word for bumping off something and carrying on in almost the same direction.” The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time astounds at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in NYC and shows us all our differences only make us stronger.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells the powerful story of Christopher Boone (Alex Sharp) a fifteen-year old boy with an extraordinary brain. Christopher has a form of high-functioning autism (although it’s never explicitly stated), which makes him extremely gifted but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to find the true culprit. His Sherlock Holmes-esque quest leads him to an earth-shattering discovery about his own life and a journey that changes his life forever.
Based on a 2003 mystery novel by Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been beautifully transformed into a new Broadway play by the talented Simon Stephens. The new play played an original run on the West End in 2012. The play was met with critical acclaim and won numerous Laurence Olivier Awards that year including Best Actor for Luke Treadaway and Best New Play. It has now jumped across the pond and is making a big, earth-shattering splash.
Some of the greatest aspects of this new play are the scenic, lighting and sound designs. The scenic design by Bunny Christie is astounding. The Barrymore Theatre has been transformed into a large, four-dimensional box, complete with a mathematical grid. As the show progresses, boxes appear and hold props and additional, small set pieces. There are two jaw-dropping scenic moments and they both come in Act two. The first one occurs when Christopher has decided to run-away to London. As he travels alone, adapting to the ordinary world proves an enormous challenge. With his Dad’s voice in his head, Christopher begins to descend the escalator. The back wall of the scenery turns into a jungle-gym like structure as Christopher scales the wall. Then, out of thin air, a staircase emerges from the wall and Christopher hesitantly descends. Simply stunning. The second eye-opening scenic moment comes when the back wall slowly slides downstage to create a sense of being trapped as Christopher tries to board a train. The minimalistic set works perfectly for the play and creates some of the best scenic moments Broadway has seen in a long time.
The lighting and sound design by Paule Constable and Ian Dickinson respectively perfectly compliment each other in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The lighting design consists of several high-tech spot lights, lasers, and projections. Constable uses her incredible craft to transform the Barrymore Theatre into a magnificent, sensory overloading laser show that helps bring to life what is happening in Christopher’s head day after day. This use of projections is something that Broadway rarely sees. Some of the projections used are street signs, a mathematical grid, a Google Earth view of London and Christopher’s favorite thing: prime numbers. The lighting designs for the show is simply amazing and is enhanced by the sound design as well. The simple sound effects help elevate the simplistic scenic design. With the ensemble helping create most of the scenery, the sound effects of doorbells, cell-phones and dogs barking work perfectly in sync with the lighting and scenery. This play is proof why the Tony Award for Best Sound Design should be reinstated.
Not only are the technical aspects of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time extraordinary, but the acting is nothing short of Tony Award worthy. Francesca Faridany as special-education teacher Siobhan delivers a stunning performance. The character not only acts as a teacher but also a safe place for Christopher to call back to when the world seems too much. Faridany does an excellent job at acting as a mediator between Christopher and the audience. She begins the play by reading Christopher’s diary-like account of the death of the neighbors dog. Siobhan then becomes a link directly to the audience and a figment of Christopher’s imagination in times of trouble during his travels to London. Ian Barford also delivers a stunning performance as Ed, Christopher’s father. His compassion, frustration and devotion to Christopher comes across effortlessly. His chilling performance may be one of the standouts however, it’s leading man Alex Sharp that steals the show.
Alex Sharp delivers an exceptional performance as Christopher. A recent Juilliard school graduate, Sharp makes his Broadway debut with a role that young actors dream about. The way he embodies a fifteen year old boy with such high intelligence but everyday quirks is exquisite. His performance is nothing short of extraordinary as he leaves it all on the stage and leaves his mark amongst Broadway elite actors. Considering Sharp never really leaves the stage, he is constantly running, jumping, climbing and walking his way around. His ability to deliver his lines with such heartbreak and authenticity is amazing. Sharp is sure to be a front-runner for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play and it will be interesting to see Sharp‘s career continue to soar with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and future projects.
The choreography by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggatt also elevates the play and the ensemble to incredible heights. The choreography turns the cast members, who are constantly on stage similar to Our Town, into a sea of human contact as they flip, flit and float around the stage and allow Christopher to get from place to place easily.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time stuns and amazes audiences night after night with its killer set and lighting design and the impeccable acting by this all-star cast. Sprint don’t walk to get your tickets to see this incredible new play that is taking Broadway’s senses by storm.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is currently playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in NYC. For tickets visit http://www.curiousonbroadway.com/