Monday, December 8, 2014

Broadway Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Bestselling Novel Comes to Stage in Full Sensory Experience
By Lauren Yarger
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time proves once again why Britain’s National Theatre is one of Broadway’s hottest tickets.

The production of Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel into a stage production was no easy feat. Any adaptation of a work that has such a loyal following is difficult in itself. Will the show live up to expectations? Will it include all of the parts enjoyed by fans? This book’s concept offered even greater challenges since most of it takes place in the mind of an autistic boy.

For this production of Curious, Director Marianne Elliott (who won the Tony for the excellent War Horse) and Scenic and Costume Designer Bunny Christie (who has three Oliviers) don’t disappoint. They depict every sensation, every thought honed with mathematical precision, every emotion that takes flight to produce an immersive experience quite unlike anything we have seen on a Broadway stage.

Recent Julliard graduate Alexander Sharp makes a smashing Broadway debut as Christopher, a 15-year –old who is exceptional at math, but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When the police suspect him of killing a dog belonging to his neighbor, Mrs. Shears (Mercedes Herrero), he initiates his own investigation into the incident and records his observations in a book he is writing to solve the murder. His special-ed teacher Siobhan (Francesca Faridany) reads to us from it and later convinces Christopher to turn it into a play. By using this technique, script writer Simon Stephens keeps the idea of the first-person narrative from the novel.

The boy’s father, Ed (Ian Barford), who has been raising Christopher alone, is very much opposed to the investigation, however, especially when helpful neighbor Mrs. Alexander (Helen Carey) provides some disturbing information about Christopher’s mother, Judy (Enid Graham).

Christopher continues, however, making a map (projected onto screens and the stage) and setting out on a voyage that has him walking down walls, flying through space and ending up at the truth.

The story is engaging (if a bit drawn-out at two and a half hours) thanks to Elliot’s excellent direction. Actors not involved in the action take seats around the stage, leaning in when the story gets interesting. The real triumph here is Christie’s visual communication of Christopher’s thought process.

“I see everything,” he says, and we see everything he sees. Concepts become projected mathematical equations (designed by Finn Ross with lighting by Paule Constable); heightened emotions and thoughts jumbling at too-fast a rate manifest in a crash of music and sound (designed by Adrian Sutton and Ian Dickinson for Autograph, respectively).

This full sensory experience becomes one giant piece of breath-taking choreography (movement by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly) that involves the audience in emotional ways and takes Broadway stage production to a new level. At the end of the performance, the audience gave a collective “hmmmm” then burst into applause. Now that’s theater that makes you think.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time transferred to London’s West End (where it still runs), following a sold-out run at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in 2012. The production received seven Olivier including Best New Play. Look for it at the 2015 Tonys….

Curious? Catch it at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th St., NYC, Performances: Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm; Sunday at 3 pm; Tickets $27 - $129

Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Adultery

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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