[THEATER REVIEW] The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Ahmanson

Gene Gillette as Ed and Adam Langdon as Christopher Boone in the touring production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, currently on stage at the Ahmanson Theatre, is both a murder mystery and a story about the problems faced by someone who is an outsider. The Broadway production won the 2015 Tony award for best play, and the London production won numerous 2013 Olivier awards. This is a National Theatre production.

As one enters the theater, the dead body of a large dog with a pitchfork sticking in its side is seen in the center of the stark, boxy stage. When fifteen-year-old Christopher is falsely accused of committing the murder, he makes it his mission to discover the real culprit. We are immediately thrust into his perplexing world.

Christopher suffers from an unnamed condition, which might be a form of Asperger’s syndrome. He is highly intelligent, a math whiz, but his mind works differently. He is confounded by human relationships and cannot stand being touched. His closest friend is his pet rat. As the story develops he discovers perplexing mysteries surrounding those he loves.

Julliard graduate Adam Langdon who portrays Christopher is the linchpin that ties the plot together. An amazing actor he is onstage for the entire two and a half hour production. (Benjamin Wheelwright takes the role for weekend matinees.) Other notable characters are Maria Elena Ramirez who portrays his understanding teacher Siobhan, Gene Gillette as Christopher’s patient but sometimes emotionally inept father Ed, and Felicity Jones Latta as his mother Judy, a fallible character whose love for her son conflicts with her personal goals. The adept ensemble cast portrays a variety of changing characters with ease thanks to Scott Graham’s fluid choreography.

Lighting by Paule Constable is at times blinding and sound effects by Ian Dickinson for Autograph includes loud clangs and bangs that are both dramatic and distracting. At times I had to struggle to understand the actors’ British accents.

The play is adapted by Simon Stephens from the novel of the same name by Mark Haddon and is directed by Marianne Elliott

Ultimately, this is a story that evokes understanding of those who in our society who see the world in a different way. The play suggests that there is hope that Christopher’s future may hold promise of accomplishments and joy.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs through September 10th. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8p.m.; Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m. Sundays,1 and 6:30 p.m. $25-$130. (213)972-4400 or www.CenterTheaterGroup.org Ahmanson Theater at The Music Center 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.

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