Review Roundup: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
The National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opens tonight, October 5 at the Barrymore Theatre (243 West 47th Street). The acclaimed new play by Simon Stephens, is adapted from Mark Haddon's best-selling novel and directed by Tony Award-winner Marianne Elliott.
Fifteen-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.
The production is designed by three-time Olivier Award-winner Bunny Christie, with lighting by Tony Award-winner Paule Constable, video design by Finn Ross, choreography by Scott Graham and Olivier Award-winner Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, music by Adrian Sutton, sound by IanDickinson for Autograph and hair and wig design by David Brian Brown. Casting is by Daniel Swee and Cindy Tolan.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: ...the story is secondary to Elliott's inventive staging that shows us the world as Christopher experiences it. Uneventful occurrences for other people, like asking for directions or riding an escalator, are overwhelming to him unless he can imagine them as logical mathematical equations. Along with Christie's versatile set, the exceptional work by video designer Finn Ross, lighting designer Paul Constable, composer Adrian Sutton and choreographers Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett combine to create the confusing and intimidating sights and sounds Christopher encounters, as well as graphics that explain the equations behind his efforts to make sense of them. If the text were as inventive and surprising as the production, Curious Incident would be an extraordinary evening, but even Elliot's cleverness feels strained when there is little empathy behind it.
Ben Brantley, New York Times: Adapted by Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon's best-selling 2003 novel about an autistic boy's coming-of-age, this is one of the most fully immersive works ever to wallop Broadway. So be prepared to have all your emotional and sensory buttons pushed, including a few you may have not known existed. As directed by Marianne Elliott (a Tony winner for the genius tear-jerker "War Horse"), with a production that retunes the way you see and hear, "Curious Incident" can be shamelessly manipulative...Played by the recent Julliard school graduate Alex Sharp, in the kind of smashing Broadway debut young actors classically dream about, Christopher is in some ways a parent's nightmare.
Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press: Director Marianne Elliott stages a swirling, beautifully kaleidoscopic series of scenes, contrasting with the background of a giant, black-and-white grid representing the complete order that Christopher needs. When Elliott's kinetic vision and Bunny Christie's dazzling technological design - alternately playful and alarming - combine, the orderly grid explodes with fantastical projections including constellations, outer space, complicated city maps and terrifying escalators.
David Cote, Time Out New York: That combination of intense emotionalism and visual dazzle is captured brilliantly in Marianne Elliott's production, awash in video projections and moving parts (the ingenious grid-lined set is by Bunny Christie). Simon Stephens's lean, fast-moving adaptation makes smart use of the ensemble to create a polyphony of voices for narrative heavy lifting, while his domestic scenes don't stint on grimness.
Linda Winer, Newsday: The results brilliantly capture the sensory overload in the journey of a sweet, compulsive, instinctive and unpredictably violent child as he investigates the murder of his neighbor's dog Wellington. What the adaptation does not do, at least until the very end, is transcend the spectacle to dig out the emotional life that coexists with Christopher's confusing perceptions.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The technical elements alone are breathtaking - the kaleidoscopic wash of Paule Constable's lighting with its splashes of DayGlo fluorescence; the explosive cascades and geometric graphics of Finn Ross' video designs; the sensory grip of Ian Dickinson's wraparound sound; the pulsing jolts of Adrian Sutton's techno score; the bold starkness of Bunny Christie's set, a sterile white cube divided by grid lines and housing endless hatches and trapdoors that disgorge an astonishing cornucopia of props.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Director Marianne Elliott, a Tony winner for her stunning staging of "War Horse," proves a master at orchestrating visceral and wildly energetic scenes as well as poignant hushed moments. The show's design is another asset, including the set whose walls look like graph paper... When Chris imagines himself tumbling in space, held aloft and spun by his fellow actors, it's lump-in-the-throat time. Not everything works as weightlessly. The play-within-the-play device can confuse, as when Christopher gives fellow actors notes about their performances.
Jesse Green, Vulture: There is more movement in The Curious Incident-the choreography is by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett-than in many a musical. All the technical elements, from lighting (by Paule Constable) to sound (by Ian Dickinson) are world-class. Yet no matter how brilliantly done, the choice to highlight the workings of Christopher's unusual brain onstage through narration and illustration comes with trade-offs. You fret over his confusion and follow his reasoning, but after a while they threaten to smother the drama.
Robert Kahn, NBC New York: We'd talk about Christopher today as falling "somewhere on the autism spectrum," though Haddon would prefer we thought of him simply as "an outsider," a stance that makes the story that much more of a relatable experience. This kid up on stage, as portrayed by the nimble Sharp? Well, he's me. And my friends. And probably you, too, on any day when you feel overwhelmed, or more than a little obsessive-compulsive.
Steven Suskin, Huffington Post: Simply put, Curious Incident is one of the most memorable evenings you're likely to have on Broadway for quite some time. It has the same emotional impact as War Horse, but with a bit of an edge over that excellent offering. The World War I epic enthralled us with a marvelous physical production, led by those puppets; the story itself, though, was a simple if highly effective tale of a boy and his horse. Curious Incident features a production as marvelously intricate, but it is more stimulating and rewarding as a play.
Matt Windman, amNY: There are many plays opening on Broadway this fall, mostly limited engagements of well-known plays with starry casts. But if justice prevails, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," an exhilarating stage version of Mark Haddon's 2003 young adult/mystery novel, will emerge from the onslaught of openings as the surprise, must-see hit.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: As technically dazzling as the show is, it needs a great cast to work. After all, this is also the story of a torn family that slowly, painfully reconfigures itself. Especially key is the actor portraying Christopher, who's onstage the entire time. A 25-year-old Juilliard grad with credible youthful looks, Sharp delivers an incredibly warm and sympathetic performance as someone who, ironically, has no capacity for empathy. After the razzle-dazzle has died down, his dogged, utterly human Christopher is what you remember.
Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: All in all, though, "The Curious Incident" is a singular, rather remarkable production. Beyond the staging, lots of credit goes to Sharp, who uses the distinctive way he holds his body, gestures and speaks to totally inhabit Christopher. A recent Juilliard graduate, the young actor makes a notable professional debut.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: For Christopher Boone, the hero of Simon Stephens' extraordinary new play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (***½ out of four stars), such experiences are part of everyday life. A 15-year-old who lives with his father in Southwest England, Christopher shows symptoms associated with Asperger's syndrome; he has a great affinity for math and anything involving the processing of data, but is uncomfortable around people and has a hard time understanding them, with their constant use of metaphors, incomplete answers and other strategies for evading difficult subject matter.
Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: What Stephens, Elliott and Christies (who also designed the tone-perfect costumes) - along with blazingly expressive lighting by Paule Constable, projections by Finn Ross and music by Adrian Sutton - is bring us inside the head of an exceptional outsider who is also unyieldingly one of us. Don't think for a second this is an after-school special, though special The Curious Incidentcertainly is. It may in the end be too sentimental to qualify as highbrow - but it's brilliant nonetheless.
Peter Marks, Washington Post: At times, admittedly, you need a little patience with the unfolding of "The Curious Incident." While the piece supplies its share of touching moments - and even some outrageously sentimental ones, involving a puppy - the world it conjures is never overrun with kindly types, eager to come to the aid of a struggling young soul. That the production remains true to this rather unsparing vision is as much to its credit as is all that technical wizardry.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Believe the buzz. The National Theater Production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is spectacular, like Cirque du Soleil with brains. Scribe Simon Stephens has made sensitive work of adapting Mark Haddon's bestselling book about a high-functioning boy with Asperger's Syndrome who learns to use his uncanny genius for math to navigate the world. Under Marianne Elliott's imaginative direction, a brilliant design team allows us to inhabit the boy's consciousness on a terrifying journey that begins with the death of a dog and ends with his discovery of the power of his own mind.