A chance to see The National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a life-changing one. Fifteen year old Christopher Boone (played by Adam Langdon) has a phenomenal brain. He is obsessed with mathematics and is remarkably intelligent. When Christopher discovers his neighbor’s dog lying dead with a pitchfork in it’s side, he sets out to uncover the identity of the murderer. Along his journey of detective work he gains information about his family that turns his world upside down–literally. Christopher along with other characters are flipped, carried and flown their way through his brain as he recounts this twisting tale. The play, based on the novel by Mark Haddon, is brought to life by a truly incredible cast and production team. The technical aspects of the show alone are worth the ticket price. I can assure you that you’ll never see anything quite like it.
With the help of his teacher Siobhan (played by Maria Elena Ramirez), who doubles as his conscience, Christopher tells the story the way he sees it, with only the details he deems important, portrayed through his own little world. The entire story takes place inside of a luminescent box. The walls and floor are a grid of screens marked with letters and numbers. The walls are labeled space and time, and are somewhat interactive. Christopher often draws out plans or math problems on the walls, as he draws them they appear throughout the set electronically. The walls act as a window to Christopher’s thoughts at times. During his episodes they will fill with jumbles of words and numbers flying about and creating pandemonium on screen to match the environment on stage. The walls are also used to create scenes such as a moving train or the neighborhood street. To differentiate the various rooms scenes take place in, the floor lights up an outline in the grid. This guides the viewer’s imagination when transitioning quickly between locations. Although there are few small forms of set, majority of the show is left up to the creativity of the viewer.
Majority of the cast sits on stage throughout the entire production. Each ensemble member plays multiple roles, and although they do not change costume throughout the show, they are able to separate the actions and body language of the characters quite well. The ensemble plays inanimate objects beautifully which adds unconventional set pieces to the show. As Christopher enters his house the ensemble moves fluidly and melts into household objects such as doors, rugs, a refrigerator and even the water running down his throat. This flow of choreographed dance-like movement creates an organic visual of the morph into his home.
Adam Langdon does a spectacular job of playing the role of an autistic character. His physical embodiment of the individual is incredibly believable. The show captures many characteristics that are common among autistic people such as memorizing with attention to detail, thinking in patterns, and the difficulty to functioning in social situations. The supporting characters wore the same color throughout the show. Remembering things by color patterns and being comforted by lack of change is common in the autistic community.
With an exceptional cast, a brilliant production crew and a riveting story, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, running at the Orpheum through December 4th, is a production you surely will not forget.