Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Curious Incident of the Girl in the Theatre!

Note: This review contains spoilers.

Last weekend I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a play based on the novel by Mark Haddon. The Broadway play was a National Theatre production presented at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco.  It was also the last show in SHN's 2016-2017 season. My mom bought season tickets, mostly for the intent of seeing Hamilton once it came around. This meant we also had the pleasure of seeing The King and I, Finding Neverland, Into the Woods, and Roman Holiday. This was a pretty good year for me, theatre-wise.

I was a little skeptical about Curious Incident, largely because it was a play and not a musical. I generally enjoy musicals more than straight plays. Music is what guides my emotions and makes me feel for the characters. It just generally makes story-telling more exciting. Plus, I can listen to the cast album as many times as I want and experience the story all over again. However, I was certainly intrigued by the title of the show, as well as the fact that is was based solely on a novel. I checked out a copy from my local library and immediately got into it.

The Curious Incident is about a 15-year-old boy named Christopher Boone. Although it is not explicitly mentioned in the novel or the play, it is presumed that Christopher has autism. He has trouble with social interaction. He is baffled by nonverbal communication and figurative speech. Christopher is adept when it comes to mathematics, logic, and reasoning. The truth is he is quite intelligent. But he does not have what you might call "street smarts." He has trouble functioning in the chaotic, arbitrary world he lives in.

Christopher is also quite particular about random things. He hates the colors yellow and brown, he will not eat if different foods are touching, and he bases what type of day it is going to be on how many red cars he sees during the bus ride to school.

The fact that Christopher's manner of speech is very literal and straightforward made it very easy to read. He tells it like it is and points out when people around him are being confusing or unclear.

At the beginning of the play, Christopher is seen petting a dog that is lying center stage with a garden fork sticking out of it. Abruptly, his neighbor Mrs. Shears approaches and looks down in horror. She shouts "What the f*** have you done to my dog?!" As it turns out, the dog Wellington has been killed. Appearing at the scene of the crime, Christopher is accused by Mrs. Shears of having killed the dog, but the truth is, he has no idea who did it. From that point, Christopher makes it his mission to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington.

Throughout this opening scene, Christopher's thoughts are narrated in first-person by Siobhan, his school counselor. When Christopher tells Siobhan about the dog, she suggests that he write down his discoveries in the form of a book that she can read, and that is what she is reciting throughout the show.

What struck me about the staging is how surreal and eccentric it was. While reading the book, I simply imagined Christopher walking down a normal suburban street on a sunny day, going up all the little houses to interview for his detective project. On the stage, each of the three walls was an array of dots. The outlines of the houses were drawn in projections between these dots, like one of those games where you have to connect the dots to claim as many squares as possible.

In addition, not many props or sets were involved. When Christopher rings the doorbell and the neighbor opens the door, it is all a pantomime. One of the funniest scenes is when Christopher is on the train, but he is hiding from the police officer who wants to take him back home. He climbs into a compartment with all the luggage and takes a nap on top of it, so when people come to collect their bags they have to reach underneath him and it's really awkward. Christopher keeps sleeping until he is left curled up across three bags (all represented by wooden cubes). Someone comes in and takes the middle bag, realizes it's not theirs, puts it back and takes the one under his feet. The entire time, Christopher is perched on however many boxes will support him, sound asleep. I laughed out loud and whispered to my mom, "that's me." (I happen to be a very deep sleeper. I could probably sleep through the apocalypse.)

I was glad I read the book because I was able to experience the story from a brand new pair of eyes. And I knew what was going to happen, which kind of made it more exciting when I got to see it in front of me. But nonetheless scary at times. When Christopher is at the train station and loses Toby and crawls down into the tracks to get him, I honestly got scared. I put my hands over my mouth and whispered "oh, no" even though I knew he would be okay. It was because the scene was so suspenseful. There were projections of the tracks on the stage floor and loud sound effects. I think this shows how good it was at the terrifying moments because even I was scared and I'd already read it.

Overall, this show was amazing. It was gripping, fascinating, educational (complete with a geometry problem after the curtain call), heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one. I burst into tears when they brought out the puppy. It wasn't just the puppy, it was everything leading up to the puppy. All my emotions were released in that moment! If you get a chance to go see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time before it closes in San Francisco, I highly recommend it. It was a stellar closing to a stellar season.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hi There! / City of Bones

Hi everybody! My name is Rachel and welcome to my blog. I am a high-schooler who loves to read and write. I also love to draw, sing, dance, swim, run, and watch Doctor Who. I am also a Joss Whedon fan and I love Buffy and Firefly.

Most recently I read the first book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones. I am not that much of a fantasy person (except for Harry Potter). I mostly love YA science fiction and dystopian (and also romance <3). But I really enjoyed reading this book! It was fast-paced, well written and humorous. I kept posting every three hours on Facebook about how far I was in the book, and sharing my favorite quotes. The only thing I had a slight problem with was that I found it a bit confusing to keep track of the different kind of creatures that exist in the Shadowhunters' world, which creatures are enemies with each other, etc. I was also very confused towards the end, when was a whole chapter of Luke telling his story, and I couldn't follow who was related to whom. I tried looking up a family tree of all the characters, but I still couldn't figure it out. I basically got the gist of it though, and I caught the big "oh!" moments. ;) Some people are really good at following things like these, but I am not one of them. Oh well. (If any TMI fans want to explain the whole thing to me, that would be helpful! :))

The only other thing was that Jace just kept making fun of Simon any time anybody mentioned him. It started to get pretty old. Seriously, dude, just stop.

I really loved this book overall, though and I am excited to continue the series! I also really want to watch the City of Bones movie. It feels really rewarding to see the movie after you have finished the book.