When first-time novelist Mark Haddon wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in 2003, he was careful to avoid using the words “autism” or “Asperger’s syndrome” in describing his protagonist. Christopher Boone, 15, is simply a math prodigy and mystery buff who has difficulty functioning in social situations and is easily overwhelmed by too much stimuli. Haddon was very conscious of not being an expert on autism-spectrum illnesses. And yet the novel, along with Simon Stephens’ 2012 stage adaptation, went on to garner high praise from the spectrum community for their sensitive depiction of the world as seen by a young man who is neurologically atypical. The novel won a pile of prizes including the Whitbread Book of the Year award, and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. The original London production of the play copped seven Olivier Awards; the 2014 Broadway production took five Emmys, six Drama Desk awards and five Outer Critics Circle awards.
The Rhinebeck Theatre Society is staging a new production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. Andy Weintraub directs, and Michael Wagner portrays Christopher, the teenager whose investigation of the mysterious killing of a neighbor’s dog leads to shocking revelations about his own family, culminating in a highly challenging solo trip into London to seek the mother his father had told him had died. Also in the cast are Alex Skovan as Ed, Emily McCarthy as Siobhan, Dot Luongo as Judy, Patricia Seholm, David Foster, Aaron Michael Hall, Andy Crispell, Lisa Delia and Jody Satriani.
What makes this production extra-special is the collaboration with the Anderson Center for Autism, based in nearby Staatsburg. An autism-friendly matinée will be held on Saturday, March 2 at p.m., featuring lower sound and light effects and dimmed (not dark) house lighting. The lobby will be open during the show as a quiet space for audience members who wish to take a break. A question-and- answer session will be held after the February 22 performance.
Performances begin at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays from now through March 3. Ticket prices are $25 on Saturday and Sunday, “pay what you will” on Friday. To purchase, visit the Center box office at 661 Route 308 in Rhinebeck, Wednesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., call (845) 876-3080 or visit www.centerforperformingarts.org.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Feb. 22-Mar. 2
Friday/Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m.
Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck
661 Route 308