Simon Stephens' play, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," based on Mark Haddon's celebrated novel about literature's most improbable detective, is now on stage at The Hippodrome.
Christopher's body dwells within self-imposed boxes. But his 15-year-old mind explores the mysteries of triangles.
Christopher likes science, space, writing and his pet rat, Toby.
He doesn't like metaphors, noise, making eye contact or the color yellow.
His IQ is off the charts. But people ask, "How stupid are you?"
When overwhelmed by sensory intrusions, he collapses into a screaming heap until all goes blank.
But somebody killed Wellington, the neighbor's dog. With a garden fork. And if Christopher can't solve the crime, who will?
Simon Stephens' play, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," based on Mark Haddon's celebrated novel about literature's most improbable detective, is now on stage at The Hippodrome. And this latest collaboration between The Hipp and UF's School of Theatre and Dance is both an assault on the eyes and a feast for the mind.
Which is to say that director Ralf Remshardt and his gang of behind-the-scenes wizards have done their level best, through shrewd application of noise, light and motion, to give the audience some sense of just how threatening is our "normal" world when viewed through the eyes and ears of a young man who lives somewhere along the autism spectrum.
And it is disturbing, indeed. In this production, crew members do not simply appear in orderly fashion to deliver their lines and then exit right. Rather, cast members are human whirligigs who constantly revolve around and close in on hapless Christopher, touching and demanding and insinuating and accusing.
"The Curious Incident" is less a mystery than a reckoning, a journey through the heart of a young man's unwanted darkness. And Kyle Brumley's Christopher is a revelation — bright, animated and impertinent one moment, recessive, frightened and uncertain the next. Christopher seeks logic in an illogical world. "I see everything," he exclaims, but welcomes too little of what his mind allows him to filter.
Those closest to him also apply their own emotional filters to suit themselves. Clint Thornton's father dispenses tenderness and brutality with equal dexterity. Cynthia Beckert is maddeningly elusive as the remote mother-turned-protective lioness. Only Gloria Halsell's Siobhan, Christopher's teacher/narrator, determines to relate her student's story without filter or inflection.
Ultimately, Christopher's search for the truth — not just about the dog's killer but his own shrouded past — sends him on a sinister journey that rivals Alice's own adventures in Wonderland. Instead of the red queen he will encounter, among other fellow travelers, a black woman in full Mad Max getup (J. Moliere in serio-comic relief) and a cop judged too old to be acting his age (Niall McGinty). All of this encountered on Christopher's right-angled trek to confront his own demons.
"I find people confusing," Christopher admits early on. In his boxed-in world, Pythagorean Theory is easy, human nature is hard.