Barn’s ‘Curious Incident’ weaves intriguing tale

The Barn Players

Get ready to explore the interesting insights and brainiac powers of an Autistic mind in a flawed socitey that is nearly oblivious to the world around them with the mystery, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” opening May 23 by The Barn Players.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” brilliantly directed by Jessica Franz and performed on an appropriate cubist stage design by Richard J. Burt, transports the audience to a Swindon, England and into the world of a young man dealing with Autism.

The show, opens like so many TV mysteries of old–a murder– but in this case, the victim, a canine, spurs a young man into action. Christopher (Jace Willcutt) gives a touching performance as a young man determined to overcome mega-obstacles to solve the case by pushing his own limits and proving his belief in his abilities.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

Winner of seven Olivier Awards in London’s West End and claiming five of American’s Broadway prices, five Tony Award including Best Play, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ follows the story of 15-year-old Christopher who has an extraordinary brain, but his Autism makes human interaction difficult. He becomes frightened by loud noises, human touch, and cannot distinguish certain social nuances.

Christopher’s situation is that of a special needs person whose brain function surpasses that of many other persons, yet his disorder severely limits him in other ways. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” brings back memories of the Dustin Hoffman film Rainman and the character’s extraordinary math skills and number skills. In this play, Christopher exhibits a similar mathematical mind where everything is precise: it’s black or white; truth or lie.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

Even with his limitations, he shows that drive and determination can overcome many situations and that success is possible.  The character of Christopher can change viewpoints on special needs individuals.

Along with Christopher’s story is the story of his parents and their problems understanding each other and with their special needs child. Like most stories, the comedy or drama spins from a dysfunctional situation, and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” follows that pattern. Personal problems separate the parents and shatter their love for Christopher. Neither fully understands what to do to meet his needs and find their own success.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

What makes this play stand out might lie in the array of broken characters throughout. They all show their flaws in their dealing with Christopher, yet they are not bad characters. They just possess flaws that the audience sees and understands. Even though the characters show faults, they are nor bad people or have bad intentions. The audience sees them through Christopher’s eyes which allows for no shades of gray.

The compelling story drew a boatload of awards on both Broadway and the West End. Dual success means the show was well-received by a varied audience. Strong language runs throughout the play so parental guidance is suggested. Opening night saw students from middle school upward in the audience.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

As the lights come up at 7 minutes after midnight, and Christopher stands beside his neighbor’s dead dog, Wellington, who has been speared with a garden fork. Finding himself under suspicion, Christopher resolves to discover who murdered Wellington. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes books, Christopher records each fact of the crime. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a thrilling journey that upends his world, the Barn said in a post.

“He is exceptional at mathematics but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life,” The Barn said. “He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road; he detests being touched; and he distrusts strangers.”

The show definitely falls into the mystery and suspence genre but make no mistakes. The show uplifts and stresses that determined individuals discover ways to succeed against difficult obstacles. The Barn’s version of “The Curious Incident in the Night-time” entertains and keeps audiences guessing. What a great production.

Vida Bikales/The Barn Players

“Congratulations Jessica Franz. You have assembled a brilliant cast and directed a kick-ass production of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ I guarantee that no one will leave this production regretting they had spent the time to see this show,” an attendee noted of Facebook after the performance.

The cast is led by Jace Willcutt as Christopher Boone, Chelsea Rolfes as Siobhan, Michael Juncker as Ed, Larissa Briley as Judy. Others in the cast play several roles, giving strong support to the leads and presenting diverse characters with each change. The multi-charactered ensemble is Joyce Halford, Megan McCranie, Arthur Clifford, Cameron Reynolds, Shea Ketcham, Karla Fennick.

The Barn Players

Led by Jessica Franz as director, the production team is: Amanda Tufano, stage manager; Erika Crane ricketts, dramaturgy; Valerie Martin, movement coordinator, Richard J Burt, scenic design; Phillip Leonard, lighting design; Sean Leistico, sound design; Alexa Cioffi-Abt, properties design;  Mike Tufano, projection designer; Allison Nickel, costume design; Kevin Fullerton, graphic design.

The Barn Players production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” by Simon Stephens is based on the novel by Mark Haddon. The play runs May 23-June 2, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. at The Arts Asylum, 1000 E. 9th, Kansas City, MO 64106. For tickets, go to The Barn Players website.

Tags: The Barn Players, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” review, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts and Entertainment


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One thought on “Barn’s ‘Curious Incident’ weaves intriguing tale

  1. Some other Mike Tufano

    Technically speaking, Mike Tufano was projection design, not props. But who’s counting? Glad you enjoyed the show!


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