Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Tony-Winning Drama Opens the Season at the Rep

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Tony-Winning Drama Opens the Season at the Rep

Article excerpt

A combination credit, "director and choreographer," shows up regularly in the world of musical theater.

But why would a straight play need a choreographer?

Marcia Milgrom Dodge shows us exactly why in her fluid, crystal-clear production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. It opens the season with a supple theatrical sensibility that owes as much to dance as it does to drama.

Based on a popular novel by Mark Haddon that Simon Stephens adapted for the stage, "Curious Incident" opens with a curious incident indeed. On a midnight walk, an English teenager named Christopher Boone (Nick LaMedica) stumbles on the corpse of his neighbor's dog, Wellington. The dog was stabbed with a garden fork. Understandably, Christopher is upset.

But not much about Christopher is easy to understand. A brilliant mathematician, he struggles with routine social interactions. He avoids eye contact, gets confused if people say things that aren't literally true, and feels overwhelmed by too much sensory input.

Neither Stephens nor Dodge labels these challenges, but anyone can see that Christopher is "different." The neighbor even suspects him of killing her dog.

Christopher wouldn't do that; he genuinely liked Wellington. (He also likes his pet rat more than he likes most people.) Under the circumstances, he decides it's up to him to solve the mystery of the dog's murder and also to find out what happened to his mother. But that's going to involve a trip to the capital of sensory overload: London.

Dodge stages "Curious Incident" as a true ensemble piece, in which most of the excellent actors take multiple roles. But LaMedica, at the heart of the play, runs the show.

A small man whose narrow frame is in almost perpetual contraction, LaMedica commands his space almost entirely by himself. In the play's last moments, when he climbs over and around a kind of tiny "phone booth" to solve a math problem, LaMedica gives us a new version of Christopher, as dexterous physically as mentally. That's a cheery thought.

But when Christopher is overwhelmed, LaMedica falls to the floor in tortured spasms. When Christopher feels good playing with toy trains, for example, or saving his rat from disaster he doesn't even raise his eyes to the audience. …

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