REVIEW: CURIOUS DOG

by Noah Lee Jordah

Mic drop. Mind blown.

It’s intermission of the National Theatre production of CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, and as I stand aimlessly sipping my red wine in the lobby, I overhear a conversation already in progress.

Nearby, two women are openly and loudly discussing the show thus far.

“How do you think it’s going?” the first one says. “You never know what you’re gonna get with theater.”

I nod silently. I agree.

“Well, I think they’re doing a wonderful job. I can’t wait to see how it ends,” the other says.

I nod again. It’s true.

These are common discussions you hear when seeing live performance, only they don’t always end so favorably.

Last Tuesday, the DCPA opened the latest installment in their glorious season, CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. It’s the story of fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone (Adam Langdon) and his extraordinary brain. While he is exceptionally intelligent, he is also slightly ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. Upon the discovery of his neighbors dead dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever. Over the course of this two-plus-hour production events transpire that will shake up Christopher’s world forever. There you have it, and if none of that made sense, you’ll just have to see it to understand.

CURIOUS INCIDENT… is interesting, and while I wish there were a better word to describe it, it’s truly the only word that feels right. I could say it’s lively, endearing, sensory driven, emotional, or funny (which it’s all of those things) but for some reason “interesting” is the only word I can produce. As a child born without any major learning disabilities and a high level of social skills, many of my friends and I have no real idea of what the world might look and feel like through Christopher’s lens. This play could be wrong on so many levels, and I would never know the difference. But what I do know is that from the very beginning of this production, I was hooked. I was immersed in a world and taken on a journey that I never really wanted to end.

In a production of this nature it’s hard to pinpoint just one or even a few fantastic performances—this cast runs deep. Most of the actors play multiple roles, zipping around the stage from one end to the other seamlessly becoming a man on the street, a friendly or not so friendly neighbor, a teacher, or even a household item. From the very beginning, this cast and crew are in a steady and energized rhythm and synchronization that uses imaginative staging to tell this incredible story. CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is a one of the most inventive productions I’ve ever seen. Well played, DCPA. Well played.

Now back to those lovely ladies during intermission—noticing my very apparent eavesdropping, woman one says to me, “well what do you think?”

“Um…I think it’s great. I’m loving the way they are using sound and unique staging to help tell the story,” I mumble having been caught off guard by her question.

Without hesitation the second woman turns and says, “I just celebrated my 93rd birthday, and this play is amazing! I wish there were more productions like this because not everything needs big musical numbers to be of value.”

Mic drop. Mind blown.

Hearing those words, I knew—CURIOUS INCIDENT…was truly something special. With a stamp of approval from the woman, who I later learned was named Myrtle, and a stirring round of applause from a less than sprightly bunch, this production proves it’s worth the price of admission.

CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Simon Stephens, adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel and directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott plays now through June 18th.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1101 13th Street, Denver, 303.893.4000, denvercenter.org

 

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