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10/8/14

The Alex Sharp Show Amidst The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Honestly, who doesn’t want to be apart of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time bandwagon right now? With rapturous reviews and audiences claiming a unprecedented level of exuberance for a play, I’d feel special just being the postal worker delivering their mail.


Because The Curious Incident… - playing at the Barrymore Theater - is not even in the general vicinity of fucking around with how outstanding it is. We’re talking about a show that is operating on the highest level of theatre, where there isn’t one aspect in need of rectifying or improvement. The technical marvel that comes across on stage is impressive enough, but Christopher Boone’s altered perspective of the world is so emotionally immersive. If I knew of anyone who would want more insight into the lives of someone with Autistic/Aspergers-like tendencies (and how their families cope and react), I would gift them orchestra seats for the holidays with a hand-written note reading, “here you go!"

All-around astounding work. The story - starting with Christopher attempting to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor's dog and then moving on to his journey outside of his zone (physically and metaphorically-speaking) - is nothing less then enthralling. Paule Constable’s lighting? Adrian Sutton’s music? Finn Ross’ video? Bunny Christie’s scenic design? Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett’s movement? All letter perfect that words cannot even describe. And my girl, Marianne Elliot, is a directing fiend. Not only does she combine all the elements seamlessly, with nary a snag in the pacing or flow of the story, but she also avoids the end result of looking overwrought. Gotta love her ambition in translating the original West End production - the Barrymore isn’t capable for a full in-the-round staging, but that is basically what she did anyways. Her use of the stage-left and stage-right walls, as well as the floor and upstage wall, took a three-dimensional acting space into four dimensions (at least). Genius.

With the impeccable work done by the creative, you would think the cast would barely register as the stage swallows them whole with graphics and sounds and lights and choreography-galore. But the actors make themselves known, especially Ian Barford and Enid Graham, playing Christopher’s parents. Any scene in which they play off of Christopher is worth watching because they have the difficult task of being flawed individuals prone to astronomical fuck-ups, yet they come across as relatable “every-parents" and even likable at times.

But there is something we need to address…Alex Sharp. Alex. Fucking. Sharp.

Presented with the near-impossible challenge of following Luke Treadaway’s Olivier-award winning performance (a flawless one at that and one of my all-time favorites I’ve ever seen in theatre, film and television), Sharp CAME to PLAY! His Christopher has a more rigid, no-bullshit approach that one would expect of someone with highly-functioning Autism/Aspergers - it felt authentic to me and Sharp was most-definitely committed for the long haul.

But it’s more then that. So much more then that. For a performer that never leaves the stage and has to haul ass everywhere - running around assembling a model train, weaving in-and-out of crowds, climbing walls - Sharp isn’t ostentatious by any means. Or even pandering in a Nathan Lane-esque “I WILL MAKE SURE YOU LOVE ME BY CURTAIN DROP” oxygen-sucking sort of way (actually, given how emotionally detached Christopher is, he’s like the opposite of that). I could have watched him all day and he really ascends when it comes to making Christopher worth cheering for. That is no small feat considering he doesn’t have externalized emotions in his acting repertoire.

Bear in mind, this is Sharp's Broadway debut, a fact I need to keep reminding myself because I would have never have guessed otherwise. I haven’t had the acting bug in quite a while, but he is so on-point, I left the theatre feeling inspired to take the stage again. I could just imagine that there are a bunch of youths, acting students or even other working actors watching Sharp and thinking, “man, I wish I was doing that” with the accompanying thought of “am I even capable of doing that?” ensuing shortly thereafter. Quite the response illicited from a total unknown, no?

Although, let’s be real: he - or the show, for that matter - won’t remain unknown for too long.


Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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