BWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME Dazzles in ZACH Texas Premiere

BWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME Dazzles in ZACH Texas Premiere


THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon. The novel won the Whitbread Book Award for Best Novel and Book of the Year, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book, and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. The title is a quote from Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892 short story "Silver Blaze". The play, by Simon Stephens, is a significant reworking of the source material. While the novel presented the story in first-person narrative, the play is presented as a reading of Boone's writing, read aloud by his teacher, Siobhan (Katie Kohler). The end result is that the play is presented as a beautifully theatrical play-within-a-play, both wonderfully self-aware and playful.

Set in Swindon and London, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is about a 15-year-old amateur detective named Christopher Boone (Preston Straus) who is also a mathematical genius. He appears to have an unspecified autism spectrum disorder which is never explicitly stated in the play. The curious incident of the title is the mystery surrounding the death of a neighbor's dog, Wellington, found by Christopher, speared by a pitchfork. Christopher is exceptionally intelligent, but ill-equipped to deal with everyday life. His quest to solve the mystery takes him far beyond where he ever thought he could go, becoming a lesson on life and self reliance. Winner of the 2015 Tony Award® for Best New Play, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, is now receiving a Texas premiere at ZACH Theatre, in a marvelously inventive production that immerses the audience into the sensory overload of Christopher's world.

Director David Steakley has done a masterful job with this piece, creating a thoroughly engaging and endlessly creative evening of storytelling. His blocking in sections is stunning, especially in the intricate patterns created by the cast acting as the crowds that surround Christopher on his journey. Stephanie Busing has created a set that echoes Christopher's mental need for order. She has also created eye popping projections that change quickly and seemlessly in aid of the story. Rachel Atkinson's lighting design is awash with bold colors that also serve to underscore the protagonist's state of mind. Craig Brock's sound design works to support the story in a non-intrusive way. Emily Gilardi's costumes were pitch perfect and Steve Baglio has done a marvelous job with prop design, creating glowing books and backpacks with plastic bubbles to house pet rats. Notice must also be given to dialect coach Amanda Cooley Davis for the perfect accents of the cast and to Toby Minor for flawless fight choreography.

The cast works as a well oiled unit, with everyone except Straus playing multiple roles as well as shifting the scenery. Many in this cast are making their Zach debut with this production, as well as their first appearance in Austin. Nick Stevenson, Meredith McCall, Katie Kohler, Lara Wright, Andre Martin, Elise Ogden and Dave Yakubik are all marvelous in this production. It is, however, Preston Straus, as Christopher, who gives a truly remarkable performance full of nuance and detail. He draws a portrait of this young man that is both sensitive and thrilling, causing you to forget this is an actor. As audience, we are completely captivated by the spell Straus weaves as Christopher.

This production is an absolute joy to experience and I can't recommend it enough. Please, do yourself a favor, go see THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. It is a brilliant piece of purely theatrical entertainment that celebrates the ways in which theatre is unlike any other form of art. It also gives a look into the world of autism that is both unique and glorious. Go and let this wonderfully moving production fill your heart



THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Simon Stephens, adapted from Mark Haddon's novel.

Age Recommendation: Ten and up for some strong language

Running Time: Two hours and 35 minutes including one intermission.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME produced by ZACH Theatre playing on the Topfer Stage (1510 Toomey Road, Austin, TX, 78704)

Wednesdays-Sundays, January 31 - March 04, 2018. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Special Events in celebration of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
Wednesday Post-Show Discussion - Wednesday, February 7, 2018.
ASL Interpreted, Open Captioned, and Audio Described - Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Champagne Opening - Thursday, February 8, 2018
Sensory Friendly Matinee Performance - Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ticket $25 - $80 plus fees; student rush tickets $20 (ID required). Tickets start at $25 and are available online at zachtheatre.org, by phone at 512-476-0541, or in person at the ZACH Theatre Box Office, in the Topfer Theatre, 202 South Lamar Boulevard (corner of Riverside Drive and South Lamar) Monday through Saturday, 12- 5p.m. ZACH Theatre is wheelchair accessible. Discounts are available for groups of 8 or more. Student Rush Tickets are $20 one hour before show time (with valid ID).

Photo Credit: Kirk R. Tuck

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