During intermission of “The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time,” the audience members around me looked puzzled.
“I just don’t get it,” said one. “Maybe I’m not cultured enough for this,” said another.
If you’re looking for a linear, cookie-cutter play, “Curious” isn’t for you, but it does define what I love most about theater: that it makes you think. It forces you to look into the mind of someone of which you most likely have little in common.
The avant-garde production, which is at the Belk Theater through Feb. 19, is adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Mark Haddon about 15-year-old Christopher (played by Adam Langdon), who has autistic-like tendencies but a brilliant brain, trying to make sense of the world around him. Christopher is not an easy child to deal with – he doesn’t like to be touched and is prone to tantrums.
Langdon is the show’s obvious standout star and brings an authentic performance. He wasn’t a caricature, but a candid look at a coming-of-age teenager, who can’t quite understand people.
I will warn you, the show does start with a bang – or should I say fork – as you walk into the theater, you’re greeted with a dog slain by garden fork center stage.
The dog is his neighbor’s dog Wellington and he initially sets out to discover who killed him. The production follows Christopher’s thought process and echoes that stream of consciousness of someone’s mind, which might be difficult to follow at some points, as there are no transitions between when Christopher is in the present or thinking about an instance in the past. His teacher, Siobhan (played by Maria Elena Ramirez), serves as the show’s narrator and reads from a story he wrote, which chronicles his mind.
The “Curious” set is an electronic grid that displays the clarity within the chaos of Christopher’s mind, using various images and words. The grid also had cubbies that characters could pull excess props from, as if characters were physically pulling ideas from Christopher’s mind. Ensemble actors step in as props, as well as random characters.
The choreography of the ensemble and physicality of each character played into the awkward way Christopher sees the world.
You will receive sensory overload with the use of various sounds and images, but that’s simply how Christopher sees and feels it and the audience must experience it along with him.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” runs at Belk Theater through Feb. 19. Find more information at goo.gl/6W9iSB.