“Different” has many meanings.

Its literal meaning is: “not the same as another or each other.”

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Depending on the context, it can also mean unique, interesting, cool, new or, if you’re from the Midwest, “bad.”

But, it always means something is set apart.  And, in today’s climate especially, it means something to be scared of.

In “The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time,” playwright Simon Stephens shows us what the other side of “different” looks like.

The story begins with the death of Wellington the dog. Christopher, Wellington’s neighbor, gets wrongly accused of his murder and decides to find out who actually committed the crime.

Along the way, Christopher learns things about his family and himself.

From the beginning of the play it is very clear Christopher is brilliant, but it also appears as though he has some difficulties. It is never explicitly stated, but it is hinted at that perhaps Christopher has some behavioral issues.

Since the book’s release in 2003, many believed he has a form of autism, perhaps Asperger’s.  At first the book’s author, Mark Haddon, did first include autism on the cover of the book but quickly pulled it.

He later said that Christopher was “mathematician with some behavioral difficulties.”

Whether or not Christopher has autism, he approaches life in a very different way from others.

As playwright Simon Stephens said, Christopher “sees things that most don’t.”

Often these are the things that we’re conditioned to ignore or accept, but Christopher doesn’t. He questions them and brings them to light.

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Adam Langdon is dynamic as Christopher. The physicalization he puts into the character is what makes the show so powerful, heartbreaking and real. In fact, some of the most emotional moments of the play are only as compelling as they are because of the physical interaction between characters.

Many of those moments take place between Christopher and his father, played by Gene Gillette.

Gillete plays off Langon’s energy perfectly, balancing his overly articulate, energetic persona well.

He uses silence strategically to build emotion and highlight the weaknesses that make his character real and flawed.

Maria Elena Ramierz also shines as Christopher’s teacher, Siobhan.

She is the type of teacher every parent wishes their child would have: patient, kind and attentive. She guides Christopher without forcibly leading him, and helps calm him by pointing out his own strengths.

In the beginning each character is attempting to help Christopher learn how to function in the world by encouraging “normal” behaviors. But in the end, Christopher’s unique view helps bring about positive change.

Showing that, while there will still be struggles for both Christopher and all those he interacts with, by listening to and accepting other ways to view things growth and change can occur.

And while not a categorically Christmas show, perhaps this was most needed as we enter the holiday season and New Year.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is open now through Dec. 4. Tickets cost $39 to $139. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit Hennepin Theatre Trust online.

WCCO got a sneak peek at a dressing room belonging to one of the show’s stars. See more below!

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