A Unanimous Hit, Now Let the Numbers Roll In
On October 5, 2014, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway. A transfer from the National Theatre in London, this clever and heartfelt play won over critics in the U.S. as much as it did in Britain. Unanimous raves began to pour in following the show’s official opening, which occurred after 23 preview performances. Marilyn Stasio of Variety alerted readers to “believe the buzz,” as the show is spectacular. Ben Brantley of The New York Times was so rhapsodized by the play’s immersive effect that he declared it a Critic’s Pick. Extremely positive reviews also came in from Time Out New York, the Associated Press, the Hollywood Reporter, NY Daily News, and NPR. As for box office performance, the last reported numbers are from the week ending October 5, 2014, which does not take into account any performances since the reviews all came out. Therefore, the next few weeks will be crucial to determine whether this play’s positive notices will translate into dollars, in a way only British plays seem to be particularly adept at.
The Route to Broadway
Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s 2003 award-winning novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time premiered in the Cottesloe Theatre in London’s National Theatre on August 2, 2012, and ran there until October 2012. A month prior to closing, the National Theatre Live programme screened a taping of the play, live to movie theaters around the world. In March of the following year, the production transferred to the West End (the commercial sector of London theatre), with the intent to run for years. However, just over a year later, part of the Apollo Theatre’s roof collapsed and performances had to be suspended until after the winter holidays. In the new year, it was announced the balcony would need to undergo thorough restoration, rendering the continuation of performances impossible. Over the course of months, the cast kept fresh by giving free performances in schools. In June, the play finally re-opened at another West End venue, the Gielgud Theatre. Fortunately, it had already won acclaim in the spring 2013 awards season; it earned the most Olivier Award nominations with eight, and it won seven of them: Best New Play, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Sound, Lighting, and Set.
Creative Team and Cast
The play is directed by Marianne Elliot, whose production travelled from London to New York where it found a new cast. The lead role of Christopher Boone is played by Alex Sharp, a Juilliard grad making his Broadway debut. The set is a black box with three sides, and a network of lines break up into smaller boxes lined in white. Whenever anyone intrudes into Christopher’s world, the perfectly orderly arrangement goes berserk with light and sound and video. The scenic designer is Bunny Christie, who collaborated with Paule Constable on lights, Finn Ross on video, and Ian Dickinson for Autograph on sound. The story involves a 15 year-old boy, unspokenly with Asperger’s disease, who goes off to search for the murderer of his neighbor’s dog. In the meanwhile, he encounters facts about his family that lead him on an altogether unexpected journey. His mother Judy is played by Enid Graham, and his father is played by Ian Barford. His teacher Siobhan is played radiantly by Francesca Faridany. The show is slated for an open-ended run.