THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Ahmanson Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

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Critics LemonMeter

85%

15-year old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s 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.

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"I had the pleasure of seeing this show in London in 2013, so I was particularly excited to take my mother to see it when it came here. There were only a few changes in the production. In London, when Toby (Christopher's rat) goes missing, the front of the stage opened up to reveal wires and tracks, which I think added to the suspense. There was a real sense of danger that wasn't present in the Los Angeles production. There are also a few language differences, which I understand are necessary. (Plus, the train worked, but I won't hold that against them. I suspect it was a one-time mistake.) If I had one criticism, it would be that I thought Christopher was much too charismatic. His voice was too dynamic to realistically portray a character whose understanding of nuance and facial expressions is extremely limited. However, it was a really wonderful evening at the theatre. The production quality is excellent. The lights are spectacular. Everyone's accent was well done. And I connected with Christopher like I never did while reading the book. I would recommend this production to anyone who had read the book, even if they didn't particularly enjoy it. I think this production gives a new perspective on the written word."

"Adam Langdon as Christopher gives a stunning performance, by turns annoying, sympathetic and humorous with an inordinate amount of dialogue to remember. He doesn't just inhabit the role, he becomes Christopher. The complexity of the role is staggering and he makes it appear effortless. (Benjamin Wheelwright trades off with Langdon on certain days.) Director Marianne Elliott takes a spare stage and a fairly small cast and creates an electrifying experience through the frenetic mind of our hero. She elicits solid performances from all of her actors, especially from Gene Gillette as Christopher's loving and hurting blue-collar father; Felicity Jones Latta as his overwhelmed mother (and who has several lengthy monologues); and Maria Elena Ramirez as Christopher's supportive mentor. John Hemphill gets a lot of laughs as Roger, Mrs. Boone's lover, and Kathy McCafferty, who gets a number of small showy roles, and nails every single one."

"Playwright/adaptor Stephens crafts this adaptation with cleverness and heart, with director Marianne Elliott’s dynamic staging adroitly pairing the warmth of the narrative with high tech, atmospheric elements that place us firmly in the central character’s challenging world view."

"I’ve seen Marianne Elliott’s production in the West End and on Broadway, where she won the Tony for her direction (her second after “War Horse”), and what continues to impress me is the way she dynamically theatricalizes Christopher’s relationship to the world."

"Apart from the aggravating overacting, performances are reasonably good, though the hunched posture of Gene Gillette as the boy’s father seems an odd choice. Adam Langdon is good in what much be a challenging and taxing role. I didn’t really enjoy it, yet The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is nevertheless an interesting play and an arresting production."

"While the vivid central character and emotional journey evoke a feeling of intimacy, highly physical and inventive staging makes the show larger than life, combining a small, human story with theater spectacle in a rare and far-reaching way."

"Most of the dozen cast member play multiple roles as Christopher’s odyssey involves more and more places and people – but Christopher is clearly the principal. Talented Adam Langdon does an excellent job of portraying a boy who is different and often doesn’t fit in. Conveying the pain and hope of his parents, Felicity Jones Latta and Gene Gillette do a bang-up job. The entire ensemble works effectively and smoothly to tell the tale of a bright but troubled youngster who is trying to make sense of a senseless world. Director Marianne Elliott has helmed this complex production with skill, adeptly mixing the serious with the humorous."

"In the cavernous Ahmanson Theatre filled with flashing lights and cascading images, Christopher feels more like a tiny player in his own world, rather than a central character. One wonders if less might be more, and if a smaller, more intimate venue, and less reliance on special effects and more on the power of the text and performance might have a greater emotional resonance."

"Simon Stephen's adaptation of Mark Haddon's best-selling novel examines, through incredibly imaginative visual devices, the inside of someone’s brain living precariously with an unnamed condition falling within the crowded autism spectrum. I am often impressed with the ingenuity, imagination, and determination needed to bring a story like this to fruition as a performance piece, but this five-time Tony winner goes far, far beyond that. This is the stuff that keeps me waking up every morning, switching on the coffee, and facing another day in a world rapidly going to shit around us."

"Playwright Simon Stephens has changed that focus, telling the tale as a play-within-a-play as Christopher’s teacher reads the book he has written and directs the cast in their various roles. This leads to a lot of “precious” and “too cute” moments that detract from Christopher and his story. Director Marianne Elliott is also guilty of overindulging with her at times “precious” staging of the story."

"At its best (and there is no worst), this marvelous play is fully felt from Christopher’s eyes out: The Curious Incident delivers another worthy way to wonder at the world. A visceral young actor who channels everything at just the right moment and pace, Langdon kinetically registers Christopher’s anguished, electrifying living-in-the-moment. A jittery mindset that initially feels chaotic and anarchic evolves magnificently; Christopher pushes beyond the false purity of prime numbers to the messy ambivalence of flawed parents and conditional love without even once mentioning Asperger’s. (Benjamin Wheelwright plays Christopher on Saturday and Sunday matinees.) The necessarily supporting performances are totally credible, both as actual adults and manifestations of Christopher’s consciousness; the tight ensemble members don’t just play multiple roles, they move scenery and each other around the stage."

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