BWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME at CT Repertory Theatre
Theatre has a way of translating human emotion and experience into a tangible, relatable, and collective experience in a way no other medium can. Audiences shed tears during emotional moments and cheer when the hero defeats the villain. But rarely do theatre-goers have the opportunity to share emotions that they themselves, may never personally experience, and in turn better understand some of the mysteries of life. Such is the case with THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, the current production of the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at UConn in Storrs, CT.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, based on the novel by Mark Haddon and adapted by Simon Stephens, lets the audience into the mind of 15-year old Christopher (Tyler Nowakowski) an extraordinary young man, who is brilliant at math but has difficulty understanding the nuances of everyday life. Christopher is accused of killing his neighbor's dog which sets in motion a series of events that lead Christopher on a mission to discover the real murderer and, in the process, discover a shocking secret that changes his world forever.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME effectively uses lighting and sound to replicate the intensity of Christopher's senses, in a way that the original book by Mark Haddon couldn't. Director Kristen Wold has creatively set the action on a white, box-like stage, allowing for interpretation by the audience and usage of projection to punctuate Christopher's thought processes. The cast serves as the various characters Christopher encounters in the play (policemen, neighbors, teachers), but also various objects (washing machine, tables, etc.) and representations of Christopher's more intense emotions. The latter tends to distract a bit from Mr. Nowakowski's performance of the more emotional scenes, and could have been toned down and still achieved the desired effect. Ms. Wold's direction, overall, captures the energy and electricity of the story and is effective in moving the story forward, especially in the first act.
The acting in THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is very strong, especially from Tyler Nowakowski who embodies Christopher perfectly. His movements, tics, and expression shows the care and effort Mr. Nowakowski made to understand and bring this complex, but fascinating character to life. In the roles of Ed, Christopher's Father, Joe Cassidy is a great balance of caring father and frustrated caregiver who is trying to do what's best for his son. And as Siobhan and Judy, Thalia Eddy and Margot White are equally effective. The rest of the cast is great in their numerous roles, and the dialects (supported by Julie Foh) are very good. The technical elements of the play are critical to the experience, and Dennis Akpinar's scenic design, Allison Zerio's lighting, Mack Lynn Gauthier's sound, and Taylor Edelle Stuart's projections, work in harmony with one another to deliver Christopher's world quite effectively to the audience.
Overall, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is a unique and thrilling theatrical experience that lifts the veil on the beautiful mystery that is the human mind. The production captures the complex emotions of raising a unique young man such as Christopher, and gives the audience an entertaining, informative and emotionally stimulating evening at the theatre.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) runs at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT through March 8. Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Matinee performances start at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Sensory Friendly Performance on Saturday, March 7th at 2:00 PM and ASL Interpreted Performance on Thursday, March 5th at 7:30 PM. Additional ticket information or to purchase tickets by phone, call 860.486.2113 or visit www.crt.uconn.edu.
Mid Photo #1: Tyler Nowakowski as Christopher Elizabeth Jebran as Mrs. Shears Matthew Antoci as Ensemble
Mid Photo #2: Tyler Nowakowski as Christopher Ensemble (left to right) Alexandra Brokowski, Matthew Antoci, Elizabeth Jebran
Bottom Photo: Matthew Antoci as Rev. Peters , Tyler Nowakowski as Christopher