The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Review

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The 2015 Tony Award-winning, including Best New Play, sensation that is THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME has made its Orange County debut at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa! This touring production takes its cues from its Broadway and West End counterparts and delivers it to our doorstep. Curious Incident is a technical masterpiece that immerses its audience into another one’s mind combining masterful sound mixing and sagacious staging with an intricate story and powerful acting into a one-of-a-kind play. This inventive stage production shows the revelations of life through another’s sophisticated perspective and leaves us understanding that life isn’t so clear cut while remaining optimistic of our own future.

Based off the 2003 best-selling mystery novel by author Mark Haddon, Simon Stephens’ adaptation of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME takes theatergoers on a heart-pounding journey within the realm of a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum. Staying vague on the boy’s actual disorder, Curious Incident stays grounded; the story is more concerned with the life-lessons learned and how others cope with them.

Christopher Boone, our leading man played by Julliard graduate ADAM LANGDON (Benjamin Wheelwright on select performances), must battle through life’s challenges without the social skills necessary to interpret certain situations. Known for disliking metaphors since he considers them technically lies in his book, figuratively and literally, Christopher goes on his own hunt for answers as he plays detective to identify the murderer of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. Along his hunt, Christopher is introduced to new troubling discoveries that only make his decision making even more challenging.

Dealing with severe relationship issues with his own parents, Christopher is seen persevering through his Aspergers-like challenges, all while taking matters into his own hands. Through each step along the way, the set design is presented as though we are viewing the inner-workings of the child’s mind. A creatively intricate production and set design is masked by a seemingly simplistic set at first glance. Through the power of lighting, sound, high-tech projections, and imaginative lit cubes, they all cumulate together allowing for an original theatergoing experience like no other!

It’s important to remember that this is solely a play, not a musical. With that in mind, the lack of singing allows for us to suspend our disbelief further and enter into Christopher’s world with a little less hesitation. Loud jolting noises and lighting cues help mimic Christopher’s reactions in our own head in relation to his nervous breakdowns and other challenges faced being on the autism spectrum. This is of course all interpretive, but does the trick very well.

Curious Incident can be troubling. It is loud, it is uncomfortable… at times. However, this is all done with good reason. Insanely powerful performances by the leading actors, including a standout performance by Langdon as Christopher, creates an attachment to these characters even if your families aren’t similar. The play dives into the gray areas of family relationships and delivers an understanding that no one is perfect.

Lying is not an option for Christopher, but there will be times he will be lied to for his own protection, even if it’s wrong. These daily conundrums can be quite relatable, but in the end, Curious Incident teaches us that we must find understanding of one another. Ultimately, it is a thought provoking play that doesn’t just leave you with one underlying theme. Instead, it welcomes a new outlook on life.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is now playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts through Sunday 9/17.

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