Monday, June 20, 2016

A Curious Night at the Theatre

Upon taking your seat, it becomes apparent The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will not be a normal play.  The curtain is already up and the stage is bare save for the LED walls with lit up grid patterns giving the perception of Tron.  The journey begins with a corpse of a canine and a teen-aged boy, Christopher Boone, sobbing over the body.  We soon discover this dog belongs to Christopher’s neighbor.  It also becomes clear that Christopher has a spectrum disorder.  His spectrum disorder manifests itself in various ways. He does not like to be touched and will react violently if he is. He dislikes the color yellow but enjoys the color red.  Strangers are not to be talked to and lies cannot be told. Literally. 
Christopher is deeply disturbed by Wellington the dog’s death and sets out to find out who killed the dog.  Throughout the process of solving this mystery, we see the world through the view of Christopher.  His autistic tendencies lend themselves to many funny lines and actions on his part that the audience can laugh at but come across as cringe-worthy and insensitive as someone that has relationships with persons with similar behavioral issues.
The first act of the play is hard to follow.  There is a good deal of movement and banter between Christopher and his counselor, Sioban. We see Christopher trying to figure out how to move forward with solving the case and Sioban working with him to understand how humans interact.
The play does a good job of giving a glimpse of the world through the eyes of someone with a spectrum disorder, however.  The LED screens help demonstrate this by flashing various colors and ear-bending sounds are emitted when Christopher is agitated.  It manifests in his interaction with other characters in the play as well, he cannot forgive the person responsible for a dog’s death but does not recognize that a wife and mother abandoning her family to be with her lover is anything to think twice about.

While it seems like the ending is meant to be a happy one, what we are left with is a teen-aged boy who doesn’t trust his father, shouldn’t trust his mother an “A” on a mathematics exam and a new puppy.

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