The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Bermel was “inspired by tempestuous letters written by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, [reflecting] on the struggles of living as an immigrant in an unfamiliar country,” the United States.

curious-incident-dogThe family went to the Wednesday, November 23, 8 p.m. showing of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. It won the 2015 Tony Award for Best New Play, and is now on its first North American tour. Simon Stephens has adapted Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel.

Fifteen-year-old Christopher is extraordinarily intelligent but has difficulty with everyday life. “When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.”

Though the words autism or Asperger’s are never used, it’s evident that Christopher is on the spectrum. The point of the play is that WE, the audience likewise experience it, which is loud, occasionally confusing, compartmentalized, and, sometimes, oddly symmetrical.

We thought it was astonishing what could be conveyed with light and sound, and intentional misdirection worthy of a magician. The mostly black set was a three-dimensional grid with concepts and locations written up it. (And if that did not make sense, I understand.)

The two people behind us thought the play was terrible, and they left at intermission, and I doubt they were the only ones. But we thought it was worthwhile, as did a relative of mine and one of her daughters, who saw the matinee that day.

Interestingly, before the performance, we ran into a couple of people who would be performing signing for the later shows, one of whom was a friend of ours. The other person, who grew up with sign language, sometimes has trouble with similes, metaphors, and other figures of speech. Coincidentally, the character Christopher feels the same way.

But, I was told later, this made the assignment easier because one could just sign the words, devoid of contextual meaning, that being how the word salad would feel to a person like Christopher.


davidalanmillerThe Wife and I went to hear the Albany Symphony Orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall the weekend before. This was the fourth concert of David Alan Miller’s 25th Anniversary Season. He and the orchestra have been “nationally recognized for his adventurous programming and commitment to giving voice to new works by living American composers, [enticing] Capital Region audiences to explore new and diverse repertoire.”

After a half dozen selections from Handel’s Water Music, the Symphony played Christopher Theofanidis’s A Thousand Cranes for Harp and Orchestra, “inspired by the unique story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who was sickened by the atomic blast in Hiroshima, Japan; despite the intense and dark impulse of the event, Sadako’s story and A Thousand Cranes is a reflection of hope and faith in the future.” It was a very touching and lovely piece.

After the intermission, we heard Derek Bermel’s A Shout, A Whisper, and a Trace. It was a wonderfully energetic piece that featured three percussionists. Bermel was “inspired by tempestuous letters written by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, [reflecting] on the struggles of living as an immigrant in an unfamiliar country,” the United States; it was a timely reflection. The program ended with a fine rendition of Schumann’s 4th Symphony.

We would go to the symphony more often except that it generally involves getting a child sitter. Fortunately, we got the tickets from Lee at church, who could not use them.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

  1. I read the book some years back and found it really interesting (and one of the better modern novels I’ve read). I would be fascinated to see the play version, even as all the noise and light would bother me a lot (I am sensitive to such things)

  2. Saw Curious Incident last weekend, I thought despite some flaws it was great. The reviews I read made no mention of the minimalist sets that were compensated for by the high tech grid on the stage and on the back walls, which gave the impression of peering into a box turned sideways.

    Judging by comments I’ve heard, for most who saw the play it was like a glimpse into a strange and startling other world, a kind of sympathetic freak show. As for me, I was shocked to find that I identified with the main character. I’ll just leave that right there.

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