5 reasons Christopher Boone liked ‘Curious Incident’ at Round House better than on Broadway

The 15-year-old author reviews the hit play based on his book.

My name is Christopher Boone and I am 15 and I am brave and I can do anything. I know that because I traveled by train by myself from Swindon to London and I solved the mystery of a neighbor lady’s murdered dog and I found my mother who I thought was dead and I wrote a book.

A man named Mark Haddon published my book under his own name and called it The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I am okay that he did that, just so everyone knows I wrote it.

Harrison Bryan (Christopher) with Christopher’s book in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

My favorite teacher Siobhan made some suggestions but she would tell you I wrote it too. Also I made the drawings.

A man named Simon Stephens made a play out of my book. He told everyone it was based on a book by Mr. Haddon but that was not true. He needed to say it was based on a book by me. Sometimes adults lie. That comes up a lot in my book, especially with Father and Mother. I did not like finding out how much grownups lie because I believed that loving means never lying and I wanted to be loved which meant I did not like being lied to.

I do not tell lies. I can’t tell lies. I don’t know how grownups do it. I think they might have a behavioral problem.

There was a big production made of the play that Mr. Stephens said was his. I went to see it in a big Broadway theater. The stage was inside a big picture frame and there were lots of bright flashing lights and the floor and all the walls were computer screens and there were animated graphics that made me dizzy and distracted and it was hard to pay attention to the characters, even though one of them was Father and one of them was Mother and one of them was Siobhan and one of them was me.

I sat up close but some seats in the theater were so high up and far away I wondered what people in them could possibly see. The play won a lot of awards and a lot of people came to see it. I was okay with that, just so everyone knows it’s about me and my book. I wondered if some people might have thought the play was about computer graphics, though. I could not tell. Everything was enormous, which made the characters seem negligible (which is a word I used in my book once to say how small I felt).

A man named Mr. Stoltenberg took me to see the play at a very much smaller theater with a rounded stage that came right up to the laps of some audience members and no one had to sit very far away at all. Afterward Mr. Stoltenberg asked me if I liked the play better that way and I said yes I did. Then I made a list of reasons why to send to Mr. Stoltenberg as a thank-you for taking me.

Harrison Bryan (Christopher) in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Reason 1. I like to think in pictures. I like to do maths in my head and I’m very good at that and I like to do detecting and think about things logically and I’m very good at that too. But mainly I see what I’m thinking while I am thinking it. I explained that in my book. So l liked it when things my character said or thought appeared projected on a screen like drawings that were as alive as I pictured them to be. It was like the drawings were performing right along with the actor who was pretending to be me. That meant I could see inside my own brain. And when he played Tetris, I could play along.

Reason 2: I say in my book I play computer games but I never said I played Tetris. The people who put on the play made that up. It’s false but it’s not really a lie. And the back wall of the set is made up of boxes like a big Tetris game in three dimensions so it all worked out. The show had a lot of good thinking in pictures like that and it didn’t make me dizzy or distracted.

Tessa Klein (Siobhan) and Harrison Bryan (Christopher) in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Reason 3. The actor who pretended to be me is named Harrison Bryan and he already pretended to be me once before at another theater. I don’t know if he plans to make a career of pretending to be me but if he did he would be very good at it and I would be okay with that just so he doesn’t do identity theft. A lot of what Harrison Bryan says in the play Mr. Stephens took from my book, but he also says some things Mr. Stephens made up, like for instance this: “I don’t like acting because it is pretending that something is real when it is not really real at all so it is like a kind of lie.” In my book I never said that. People laughed when Harrison Bryan said it but I didn’t get the joke. And I was okay with how Harrison Bryan pretended to be me even though he’s not really me because he did so many true things. Like a lot of times when someone said something to him he would make a look with his face and go hmmm or hunh like he was thinking something that he couldn’t say out loud because Mr. Stephens left it out but Harrison Bryan knew it would be on my mind.

Harrison Bryan (Christopher) and Cody Nickell (Father) in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Reason 4: The actors who pretended to be Father and Mother also did many true things and it hurt a lot to watch and remember what happened. Ever since I wrote my book I have not known what to do with that hurt and I could see that Harrison Bryan could not figure that out either. It seems to be a problem that does not lend itself to logic or detecting which made me very sad.

Tonya Beckman (Mother) and Harrison Bryan (Christopher) in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Reason 5: Siobhan. I could not have become me without her. The actor who pretended to be her did so many true things that she made me feel believed in all over again. That made me happy I got to see this version of the show. I wasn’t overwhelmed but I was whelmed. And I know that’s a real word because I looked it up and it means something very good.

Even though in my book I don’t have any friends unless you count Siobhan, which you can’t really do because she is my teacher, if I could I would ask Harrison Bryan if he would be my friend. I like a lot of things about him that I like about me. For instance he seems very good at maths and logic and he is very good to the white rat who pretends to be my pet rat Toby. If Harrison Bryan said yes he would be my friend I would ask him next if he would like to call me Boone Christopher since his own name is backward. He seems like someone who would get that joke.

Running Time: Two hours and 40 minutes, with one intermission.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is playing through December 22, 2019, at the Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda MD. For tickets, you may call (240) 528-7822 or go online.

Mr. Ashby wrote up his own reasons why he liked the show and called it A well-conceived ‘Curious Incident’ at Round House Theatre. I did not notice any lies.

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John Stoltenberg
John Stoltenberg is executive editor of DC Theater Arts. He writes both reviews and his Magic Time! column, which he named after that magical moment between life and art just before a show begins. In it, he explores how art makes sense of life—and vice versa—as he reflects on meanings that matter in the theater he sees. Decades ago, in college, John began writing, producing, directing, and acting in plays. He continued through grad school—earning an M.F.A. in theater arts from Columbia University School of the Arts—then lucked into a job as writer-in-residence and administrative director with the influential experimental theater company The Open Theatre, whose legendary artistic director was Joseph Chaikin. Meanwhile, his own plays were produced off-off-Broadway, and he won a New York State Arts Council grant to write plays. Then John’s life changed course: He turned to writing nonfiction essays, articles, and books and had a distinguished career as a magazine editor. But he kept going to the theater, the art form that for him has always been the most transcendent and transporting and best illuminates the acts and ethics that connect us. He tweets at @JohnStoltenberg. Member, American Theatre Critics Association.


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