Tony-Winning ‘Curious Incident’ Continues to Inspire on Broadway

Tony-Winning ‘Curious Incident’ Continues to Inspire on Broadway

It is no wonder why The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is still enchanting audiences on Broadway. Winner of five Tony Awards earlier this year, including Best New Play, Curious Incident challenges viewers to think logically and embrace a different way of seeing things. Yes, that’s scary, but we can be brave just like Christopher.

Curious Incident revolves around a 15-year-old boy, Christopher Boone, who is determined to find out who killed his neighbor’s dog with a garden fork. Christopher is not your average teenager. He goes to a special school, hates the colors yellow and brown, and is beyond brilliant at Math. He lives with his father because two years prior, his mother died at the hospital from a heart attack… or at least that is what Christopher was told. Not one for metaphors or small talk, Christopher sets out on his own to solve these mysteries he has specifically been instructed to leave be.

In his Broadway debut, Tyler Lea recently took over as Christopher and plays him beautifully with both strict precision and delicate care. (It should be noted that during Wednesday evening and Saturday matinee performances, Christopher is played by Benjamin Wheelwright. Though I have not had the privilege of seeing Wheelwright interpret this role, this is a physically and emotionally demanding part for an actor and my hat is off to him as much as it is to Lea.)

As the play progressed, I found myself watching Lea’s hands. Some of his fingers were flexed taut while others were bent as if grasping something that could never be let go. This palpable tension was released when someone would reach slowly toward Christopher to touch hands, palm to palm. As Christopher does not respond well to unwanted bodily contact, this simple gesture is basically his version of a hug.

You’re going to need a hug (or a hand to touch) after seeing this play. I’ve seen Curious Incident once before and read the book it is adapted from and still ended up crying twice. Father/son stories are my Kryptonite and I was emotionally compromised at incidents that portrayed polar opposite examples of Christopher and his dad (Andrew Long) physically interacting. No words were spoken at either time, but their body language, coupled with the sound design and music, effectively punched me right in the feels.

Curious Incident is one of the most cleverly crafted shows on Broadway. The minimal set decorations and heavy use of lights, electronic projections and sounds directly reflect Christopher’s love of being alone and his fascination with outer space and computers. Likewise, there are moments where the lights and sounds get overwhelming, giving the audience a sense of how overstimulation is a huge trigger for Christopher. It is never explicitly said that Christopher falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, but he does adhere to his own routine to get through his days. This kind of positive interpretation of someone living with a social disorder is encouraging and I find it exceedingly magical that the play has reached so many people and touches more hearts with each performance.

Now in its second year, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time continues its run at the Barrymore Theatre on W. 47th St.

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