The curious Incident of the boy in the balcony
a review of the Broadway classic 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'
Last week, I watched “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at the DPAC. I was expecting to see a masterclass show that would leave me speechless, considering the numerous Tony Awards (2015) that the Broadway show had garnered, yet here I am, certainly not unable to express my words. There are many reasons why I might have disliked this show. Maybe it’s because I was in the upper echelons of the balcony, far away enough from the stage to not be able to see the actors’ expressions and mannerisms. Or maybe it’s because the show wasn’t a musical and was thus less enjoyable than when I saw the “Lion King” or “Mary Poppins” at DPAC some time ago. But whatever the case, I could have repurposed the $40 ticket price for something else such as a night out with friends or one meal from Farmstead in West Union.
First of all, for those who are unaware, this play is a first-person narrative of an autistic fifteen year-old boy, Christopher Boone, who is trying to figure out who killed his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, with a garden fork. During his search, Christopher performs detective work and learns that not only did his dad kill Wellington but his dad also lied to him about his mom dying when really she had left the dad for another man. Consequently, Christopher loses all trust in his dad and plans to travel to London by himself to live with his mom. This is no small task for Christopher who is overwhelmed by large amounts of sensory information and ends up having panic breakdowns when overloaded as when he traveled to the Paddington train station. I enjoyed how this was portrayed in the show—with lots of laser lights, fog effects and trippy music with bass drops. Now I associate the Paddington train station in London with the sickest night club around. Eventually, with the help and frustration of many people, Christopher finds his way to his mother’s house.
Overall, the show could have delved further into the realm of spectacle by incorporating color, music and dance, as is typically desired of a Broadway show, instead of strictly adhering to the novel. The plot from the book was accurately portrayed in the play but had a subpar visual interpretation. The setting of the play was essentially a black chalkboard box with white grid lines every few feet. Aside from the actor’s clothes, which were also dark, color was almost non-existent. I understand the play was trying to display the mind of an autistic child, but Christopher’s mind doesn’t have to be restricted to drab colors. Christopher is very emotional and has frequent mood swings which could have been represented by divergent color schemes in the play’s setting based on the mental state being expressed. Doing this would have led to a more appealing stage presence that would keep the viewer constantly attentive to Christopher’s state of mind. In addition, building song and dance into important scenes to present the story in an alternate approach than the book might have made the play more successful. Instead, many scenes felt either too dramatic or boring and without any element of fun with the exception of a few sporadically placed jokes. In fact, I found myself looking forward to the intermission for some respite from the tedious progression of the play.
Having said this, my final recommendation is to definitely not see this Broadway play and instead use the three hours you would save to do something more enjoyable and rewarding.