Steve Murray

Performing Arts Reviews

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Written by Simon Stephens based on the book by Mark Haddon. Directed by Marianne Elliott. SHN Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

The National Theatre touring production of the 2015 five-time Tony Award winner is a dazzling tour de force for its young star Adam Langdon and raises the bar on the use of technology in the theatre. What seemed like a mammoth task, re-creating author Mark Haddon’s cerebral look into the mind of an intelligent yet socially awkward adolescent, is brilliantly realized by Tony award winning director Marianne Elliot (Warhorse) and Tony and Olivier award winning playwright Simon Stephens.

When 15-year-old Christopher is suspected of killing the neighbor’s dog, he sets out on an extraordinary journey that will claim his independence and self-awareness. Christopher’s father, played with nervous compassion by Gene Gilette lies to his son about his mother’s death, not able to divulge that she moved out over their mutual affairs. When Christopher finds the letters his mother has written, post her death, his distrust of people is verified and he sets out to; solve the dead dog mystery, pass his advanced school exams and find his mother in London.

JOAN MARCUS/SHN
Gene Gillette, left, and Adam Langdon.

Adam Langdon, a recent grad of The Juilliard Drama Division (2015) totally inhabits the character of Christopher; an animal lover who can’t be touched by people, profoundly intelligent, yet unable to manage even the simplest of human tasks. His speech pattern is awkward: sometimes cock-sure when stating facts, often gut wrenchingly inquisitive in his attempts at connection. Yes, his character’s autistic behaviors are off-putting, yet sympathetic in Langdon’s portrayal. The physicality alone is stunning, aided by the gymnastic choreography that has him literally climbing the walls at one point. Maria Elena Ramirez shines as Christopher’s understanding teacher Siobhan, as does Felicity Jones Latta as Judy, Christopher’s estranged, but loving mother.

Another major character in this piece are the technical arts involved. The set design (Bunny Christie), lighting (Paule Constable), choreography (Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett)), video (Finn Ross), music (Adrian Sutton) and sound (Ian Dickinson) all create a symphony of dissonance intended to envelope the audience with the sensory overload in Christopher’s mind. Most of us can empathize with the excess visual and auditory stimuli, and it’s an impressive feat that blends hi-tech with the human emotions at play in this piece.

With all the technical wizardry that abounds here, its Adam Langdon’s brilliant performance that drives the heart of Curious Incident.

Performances run through July 23rd, 2017   www.shnsf.com   888.746.1799