If you don’t thoroughly enjoy yourself at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, chances are good that you just don’t like plays. The theatrical interpretation of the award-winning novel takes complete advantage of everything the medium has to offer. Artful script. Check. Talented cast. Check. Clever staging. Check. Audience engagement. Check.
Critics have raved about the lead performance of Alex Sharp who plays Christopher, the autistic teen through whom the story is told. I can only imagine how brilliant he is since I found Taylor Trensch — who takes the role at some performances — utterly enthralling. On stage for the entirety of the show’s 145 minutes, Mr. Trensch is pitch perfect, skillfully knitting ritualistic movement and compulsive behavior in with his rapid fire dialogue. I am generally not a fan of breaking the fourth wall, but I found his Christopher so enchanting I was happy to have him reach out to me directly on occasion. The compassion and pride he inspires is critical to appreciating the production.
But Curious Incident is an ensemble piece and neither Trensch nor Sharp could succeed if they didn’t have such a strong supporting cast. They not only play multiple roles but sometimes function as part of the scenery as well. While everyone is top-notch, Mercedes Herrero in her Broadway debut deserves special mention for having the unenviable task of switching between two of the more outrageous characters, sometimes mere moments apart.
I also applaud the design team who have taken the black box concept to a whole new level. Their combined use of lighting, video, movement and props convey Christopher’s viewpoint in a way that is as elegantly simple as it is brilliant. I don’t want to give a single moment away, but I encourage you to let them finish what they start.
Tickets for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Ethel Barrymore Theater are available at http://curiousonbroadway.com. For those on a tighter budget, consider National Theater Live’s broadcast of the London production when it returns to these shores. Bookmark http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/36297-the-curious-incident-of-the-dog-in-the-night-time.