BWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME at Pioneer Theatre Company
"I find people confusing," declares Christopher Boone.
Fifteen-year-old Christopher is the central character in THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, the winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play receiving its regional premiere in a spectacular production by the Pioneer Theatre Company. Artistic Director Karen Azenberg proficiently stages the compelling show and guides the expert nine cast members playing 35 different roles.
Christopher is no typical teenager. While his condition is not identified, Christopher is autistic with Asperger syndrome, a high-functioning autism. He is challenged in his daily communications and enraged by the touch of another person including his caring parents, Ed and Judy. Yet he is a mathematical genius. Christopher interacts best with his special ed teacher, Siobhan.
CURIOUS INCIDENT opens when Christopher is falsely accused of gruesomely killing a neighbor's dog, and in methodical Sherlock Holmes fashion (the play takes its name from a Holmes story), he investigates the killing. The sleuthing leads him to secrets and lies from his family, originally designed to protect him, and a startling vengeful act.
Harrison Bryan is brilliant as Christopher. The young actor tackles the role with a vengeance and deeply impresses with his sensitive portrayal. Equally striking are Tom O'Keefe and local actor Stephanie Howell as his parents. I struggled to find the warmth of Melissa Miller as his mentoring teacher yet she is fine when acting as narrator.
The other actors -- Sarah Shippobotham, Sam Bruce (two additional Utah residents), John Ford-Dunker, Michael Keyloun, Michael Rudko, and Tia Speros -- take on multiple roles and easily morph from one character to the next with a unique accent for each under Shippobotham's remarkably strong dialect coaching.
Notably Azenberg has eschewed the pyrotechnical effects of the original staging that overpowered the drama of this personal tale.
Christopher's travails are individual but through his struggles we see our own challenges and are inspired to rise above our own capabilities.