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June 30, 2015

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


Mark Haddon's novel THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME has been adapted for the big stage. The Broadway production is now playing and has won five Tony Awards, including the award for Best Play. intern Sydney had the chance to see this show in New York and shares her opinion below.

Fun fact about me: I love theater. I love everything about it. The awed, hushed moment right before the curtain rises. The way that the performers and the audience have a conversation, feeding emotions and energy back to each other in an unbreakable loop. The knowledge that, unlike in a book, TV show or movie, a live performance means anything could happen.
One common source of inspiration for musicals and plays is books. Page-to-stage adaptations of this sort often grace Broadway, and last weekend, I was lucky enough to see one of them: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," a play based on Mark Haddon’s book of the same name. Play adaptations of books are magic, literally bringing the novels we know and love to life; this was no different for "Curious Incident." This year, the show picked up five Tony Awards --- Best Play, Best Direction of a Play, Best Actor in a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play, and Best Scenic Design of a Play --- and each of them fully merited, in my opinion!
If you’re not familiar with the story, "Curious Incident" follows 15-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, a brilliant boy with unspecified, Asperger’s-like symptoms, as he investigates the death of a neighbor’s dog. I won’t spoil anything for you in this blog post, but I can guarantee that from start to finish, "Curious Incident" is breathtaking and will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
Christopher is played by Alex Sharp, who, at 26, is the youngest person to win a Tony for Best Actor in a Play. Adding to Sharp’s impressive list of accomplishments, this show is his first time ever on a Broadway stage. Broadway debut, and he snags both the lead role and the Tony? Be still, my heart. I think I’m in love!
After seeing the play, I have to agree fervently with whoever conferred on him that shiny trophy. Though 11 years older than the role he’s playing, Sharp pulls off being 15 with flying colors. Not only that, but he transplants us successfully into the head of a boy who would otherwise be a social outsider. Christopher’s emotions, the way he understands animals but not people, how real life breaks down into math for him, his contempt of being touched and of the color yellow --- all of this makes perfect sense through Sharp’s incredible performance.
We are further guided into Christopher’s world through some gorgeous set design, which uses lights and sounds to make us wince in sympathy at the sensory overload of being in the London Underground, or cheer with shared excitement at the solution of a math problem. Though the way Christopher perceives the world would usually be alien to us, this play parses his feelings so that they seem natural.
Ultimately, what I took away from "Curious Incident" was not look what it’s like to live with a mental and social disability, which I hardly saw as the focal point of the play. Instead, I watched a show that told me, look what it’s like to be 15 and have the world stacked against you. Look what it’s like to have goals. Look what it’s like to overcome difficulty. Look what it’s like to not be taken seriously by adults and what it’s like to prove them wrong. Look what it’s like to do the right thing in spite of hardships. And what teenager can’t relate to that?
"Curious Incident" ends on an unresolved question, cutting to black before the response and eliciting a murmur from the audience. This play will take you on an emotional journey and stay with you long after you exit the theater. If you’re in New York and have some spare time and cash, I implore you to go see it. If not, grab a copy of the book and be prepared to let the pages dry out after you’ve watered them with tears of grief and laughter. One thing’s clear: don’t let this story pass you by.

Sydney Scott is an intern at and an avid theatergoer.