It starts with a dead dog and the title of a book I’d heard before but never read. I took my seat to see the stage adaption of a novel that has been sitting under my bed since middle school: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The show follows a fifteen year old boy on the autism spectrum named Christopher. Christopher knows all the countries in the world and their capitals, hates the color yellow, and is determined to find the murderer of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. We not only follow Christopher as he solves the mystery, we follow the people around him who are trying to find the best way to exist with Christopher and the inevitable challenges they’ll face together. Having been completely unaware of anything but the plot, I came into the Orpheum theater with excitement and with zero expectations. Needless to say, I couldn’t stop smiling as the final bows were taken. This show was electric, heartbreaking, real, and like something I’d never seen.
After ten minutes, it’s clear that Adam Langdon, who took on the role of Christopher, was immensely talented and accurate in his portrayal of someone with autism. He was vibrant, exciting and engaging to watch. He made it easy to see that Christopher was more than just a boy with autism, which was what I feared I would see coming into the show. He was funny, intelligent, and kind. This carried into every character that came in contact with Christopher, too. The relationship I found most heartbreaking was Christopher and his father, played by Gene Gillette. It showed the realness of living with someone with autism. The realness made the audience slightly uncomfortable, which is exactly what I think great theater that deals with real issues should do. This show does not hold back, it does not sugar-coat, and it does not lie about the challenges of autism. This is truly the thing that will make this show stick with me.
Aside from the acting, technical aspects of this show are something that made me sit in awe. The lighting designer, Paul Constable, illuminated the way Christopher’s brain worked, giving us another way to try and understand what he thinking. The projections on the black walls of the set helped take us into Christopher’s mind when he’d think about space, how to walk through London, and how he worked out the clues to find Wellington’s killer. When things would get too much for Christopher, it was reflected in warped projections and flashing lights surrounding him on the stage. There wasn’t a moment that I couldn’t tell what Christopher was feeling.
If I could, I’d see this show again and again. It left me frantically scribbling in my notebook about the countless amazing moments I needed to remember, although I don’t think I’ll be forgetting this production any time soon. Please go and buy tickets to The National Theatre’s brilliant production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. You will not regret it and you will not forget it.