“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”—The Mystery Life of a Savant
Two weeks ago we saw “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, the theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon’s 2003 young adult novel on Broadway, after it had become a record-breaking sensation in London, and now has been nominated for six Tony awards, including Best Play, Best Leading Actor in a Play (the phenomenal Alexander Sharp in his first Broadway play after graduating from Juilliard) and Best Direction (Marianne Elliot).
The main character is fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, who has an extraordinary mathematical brain but has difficulties with every day life, probably due to Asperger syndrome or another form of autism. When he discovers his neighbor’s dog dead, pitchfork standing straight up in his body, he sets out to solve the mystery but begins a journey that will change his life forever. “Math wasn’t like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end,” he observes.
Christopher’s brain is wired for abstract numbers in a way that allows him to see the solar system — indeed, the whole universe — with great clarity. What he can’t relate to is the world of human beings. He attends a school for children with special needs, and is absorbed in thoughts about prime numbers, beautifully rendered on stage as an electronic grid with unnerving convulsions of light and sound and visual projectiles signaling Christopher’s off-kilter state of mind in numerical forms.
The only way Christopher manages to survive in this world is by drawing on his mathematical skills. He is never more endearing than when he’s applying these skills to a problem, or explaining to the vicar why there is no heaven and no God. The fifteen-year-old’s efforts to overcome his fears and function in the world outside his own mind puts him in terrifying situations. The stage design pulls out all stops and has him navigating an escalator in mid-air, or striding sideways halfway up a wall. We, the audience, live for such moments. Called “one of the most fully immersive shows ever to wallop Broadway” by The New York Times, “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” is a theatrical phenomenon that simply must not be missed. If this play does not come to a theater near you, read the book—a classic everyone should enjoy!