Hunter Intro to Theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Reviewed by Shinil Chung

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    [Original entry available here: http://futuresinitiative.org/members/likej82/activity/2594/]

    Shinil Chung
    Performance Reflection
    THEA 101
    1D02
    Mar.02.2015
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Ethel Barrymore Theatre

    Although the story could make people struggle to be engaged, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time uses several methods such as the usage of fascinating stage effects to visualize the thought process of the main character and to prepare the audience for the future development of the story. Also, this visualization of the play further connects with the audience, allowing them to have sympathy for the main character. The play does not only use stage effects, but also the actors’ appearance in unexpected areas of the theatre like in the middle of the audience not only allows the audience to have intimate engagement with the play, but also makes them think of different interpretations of the message that the play is telling the audience. This play is a depiction of how something other than the performance or the storylines of the play can have more impact on the audience.
    First moment of the play that caught my eyes was the intro scene of the play when Shiobhan, who is supposed to be Christopher’s compassionate teacher, starts to read off the paper which introduces Christopher. Shiobhan is sitting on a chair with the solo light focusing on her. Christopher is at the murder scene where Wellington, the dog that belongs to Mrs. Shears lies killed by a garden fork. Other cast members are sitting on the side of the stage, waiting for their turn. Mrs. Shears comes into the scene, accusing Christopher fof killing Wellington, and the scene intensifies as Christopher, Shiobhan and Mrs. Shears’s voice got louder and I almost lost interest in the play from this scene. I felt that the intention of the intro scene was to allow the audience to be immediately engaged into the play dealing with a mystery of who killed Wellington which takes the dramatic turn to the compassionate story of Christopher. The voice of the actress who plays Shiobhan, who plays critical role in this sequence was not as strong as the voices of Christopher’s and Mrs. Shear’s for audience to hear the words that she was saying which made me distracted from focusing on the play.
    In spite of my struggle to get engaged into the play early on, the fascinating stage effects allowed me to be engaged. The stage of The curious incident of the Dog in the nighttime was by far the most innovative stage setting I’ve experienced before. My personal favorite moment that captured both visual and emotional aspect was when Christopher was investigating each home to find out who killed Wellington. Christopher’s mind was being overwhelmed by the information that he was receiving which made him to scream out his struggle inside his mind. During this scene, Christopher was lying on the center, and the numbers spewed out while Christopher was screaming. I believe this scene was very critical because it not only helped the audience to visualize the thought process and struggles of Christopher who is suffering from the Asperger’s-like issues. It also allowed the audience to develop compassion for the main character, which led the audience to realize that the story isn’t just about solving a mystery but also a development of the story of the life of Christopher and his struggles.
    The play is at the full throttle as Christopher takes on a journey to go to his mom in London away from his father Ed who killed Wellington. While Christopher looks for the tube in London, Ed appears in the middle of the audience on the mezzanine area. The two have a back and forth conversation about how he should go back home in Swindle or continue on with the journey. Ed’s appearance is unexpected, especially at the time when the audience is getting used to the constant fancy visual works on the stage. I believe the reason why Ed did not appear on the stage was that the Ed in this scene was not Ed himself or Christopher’s imagining Ed, but Christopher’s own inner voice. Christopher’s reluctance to go back home might seem like just the indication of how he feels about his father, but I think that this scene also represents the inner growth of Christopher. Ed being the figure that Christopher depended on early in the play, his voice represents the desire for Christopher to go back home, which would be the common expectation for Christopher from most of people. But Christopher fights back. He fights back the desire to go back home, and separates himself from the common expectation that is holding him back.
    The Curious Incident of Dog in the Nighttime allowed me to develop the deeper appreciation for the visualization aspect of the play for than ever before. There were so many different scenes in this play that impressed me and made me realized how the coordination of the stage and the usage of visualization can embellish a what can seem like a dull plot, that it made it hard for me to choose three scenes. The show was very enjoyable, but it was the first time that I was entertained by the different aspects of the play than just the performance of the actors, which reminded me that we should not forget that the theatre is a synthesis of many arts.

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