“The Curious Incident” Sheds Light on an Autistic Mind

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ADAM LANGDON plays Christopher in this gripping drama about an autistic teenager.

BY BONNIE SQUIRES
When you enter The Academy of Music for the Broadway Philadelphia production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Academy of Music, the first thing you notice is what looks like a large and very dead yellow dog on the stage, with a huge pitchfork sticking out of his body.

And then the main character called “Christopher” finds the neighbor’s dead dog, as the play begins, and you are transported into a world as seen by this 15-year-old with autism. He decides to become the detective who solves the crime.

I went to the show with my friend Laura Princiotta, the CEO of SpArc Philadelphia, who runs all kinds of programs for adults with intellectual disabilities. I thought it would be helpful to have someone with expertise in the field of autism by my side. And Laura had already read the novel, just selected for the One Book, One Philadelphia selection by the Free Library of Philadelphia, which is partnering with the Kimmel Center in presenting “Curious Incident” through Sunday, March 5.

The unique stage setting with its LED lights and strobe lights helps us see the world through Christopher’s eyes. As Laura said, the play is like the film “A Beautiful Mind,” which allows us to enter a mind which functions differently from our own.

Christopher fears touch from other humans, fears bright lights and loud noises, but is a mathematical genius. He lives with his father, as he had been told that his mother had died a few years before.

The mystery deepens when Christopher finds a batch of letters, many written recently, by his mother from an address in London. He packs his pet rat Toby and a back-pack and determines for the first time in his life to buy a train ticket and ride to London to find his mother.

Adam Langdon is so convincing in the role of Christopher that it is hard to believe he is acting. He is on stage the entire time, and the strain of his voice must be tremendous – which is why the program tells us that on Thursday and this weekend the role will be played by Benjamin Wheelwright.

But the large cast complements Christopher wonderfully, whoever plays the main character.

The original novel by Mark Haddon won awards in England, and the Broadway production won many Tony awards, for acting, lighting, staging, direction, etc.

Do not miss the opportunity to see Curious Incident!

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