October 11, 2016
Special to The Alexandria Times
A most unusual and fascinating wonder of a show burst onto the stage of the Opera House theatre last week. Packed with drama, pathos and indelible charm, this stupendous Tony Award-winning show explodes with energy. It’s an unusual premise and a real thinking person’s show with power and magnetism. You’d be well-advised to afford it the space in your head to spirit you away on its “curious” journey.
Simon Stephens’ play, based on the novel by Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a story of a high-functioning autistic boy, Christopher Boone (Adam Langdon), whose parents are about to get divorced. Christopher is a brilliant, precise and very detailed 15-year old who loves math, astronomy and all things formulaic. When his neighbor’s beloved dog, Wellington, is mysteriously killed, he sets about, to the consternation of his father, to solve the crime.
The crime itself is the thread employed to delve into Christopher’s complicated and challenging world, as well as the vehicle for our understanding of his fears and challenges. But it by no means defines the magnetic experience of climbing inside the mind of an autistic, quasi-savant teen.
For example, Christopher takes metaphors at face value, which is hilarious, especially when you think of the things we say every day that are not near as dire or nor as realistic as the descriptive words we use. Langdon portrays Christopher’s tenderness and his clashing emotions with a captivating performance. He is well-matched by Gene Gillette in his ability to portray both anger and compassion in the role of his father, Maria Elena Ramirez, as his patient and loving schoolteacher Siobhan, and Felicity Jones Latta as his irresponsible mother Judy. The rest of the crack cast appear in a myriad of revolving roles.
Director Marianne Elliott crafts an intricate adventure with precision and comedic intrigue, which is mesmerizingly pulled off by the complex choreography of Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly. Thanks to a spectacular light show using pixel-mapping technology on a grid with roving arc lights and pulsing strobes mastered by Paule Constable; and a sound system engineered by designer Ian Dickson for Autograph, the energy level is mind-blowing. For all you techies out there, Constable uses an ETC EOS Titanium system guaranteed to knock your socks off. Kudos to Finn Ross for crafting the eye-popping video design. It’s like attending a rock concert sans music, but with a heartwarming and emotionally charged story.