The Theatre Arts Department is halfway through their showings of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The play follows 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who is on a quest to find out who murdered his neighbor’s dog.
The character of Christopher describes himself as having behavioral difficulties. Christopher is not an easy character to play as he lacks social awareness. Portraying someone with autism is a challenge for any actor. It seemed like there could be a possibility for error in the performance, but Shane Reichel, who played Christopher on May 5, performed with nuance and specificity. I was fully invested in Reichel’s portrayal of Christopher. A quick look at the cast bios shows Reichel himself is autistic.
I applaud Candice Clasby, the director, for having the foresight to cast Reichel as Christopher. Reichel’s talent to lead a play of this magnitude shined throughout his performance.
The final three shows are on May 12–14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bronwyn Dodson Theatre. There are several different casts that perform for the run of the play.
The play is an adaptation of a mystery novel by the same name published in 2003 by acclaimed British author Mark Haddon. After the novel’s success, playwright Simon Stephens chose to adapt the book into a stage production that premiered in 2012 at London’s Royal National Theatre.
Without giving anything away, the audience does find out who murdered the neighbor’s dog, Wellington, before the first act is over. However, while it may seem that the play is over, the story’s true meaning is yet to be revealed in the second act.
Christian Pinga and Skylar Dorvall play Christopher’s parents, Ed and Judy Boone. The true heavy lifting in this play is given to Pinga and Dorvall, who balance the emotional crux of the play at nearly every turn. While it may be Christopher’s story, Ed and Judy are the pieces that bring it all together. The anger Pinga exudes throughout the play is palpable, and Dorvall is excellent at showing the audience the difficulties a family may encounter when raising a child.
“This story needs to be told because we often write people off in our lives a certain way, but we rarely stop and ask why do we see them so differently,” said Pinga via direct message. “We get to tell a story of someone who’s on the spectrum and society tends to focus on how different they are to the rest of us, but this play highlights more of our similarities.”
Though classified as a drama, there are some particularly hilarious moments given by the ensemble. Joshua Sandoval, who played Reverend Peters, had the crowd exuberant with laughter.
The mixed bag of British dialects is a bit jolting at first, but it becomes less of a distraction as the show progresses. The storyline and performances draw theatergoers back in.
The hard work of the incredible production staff and the creative team does not go unnoticed. Kevin Clowes’ scenic design beautifully brought the audience into Christopher’s world. The audio and lighting designers, Chris Sison and Madeline Wilson are due much recognition for a show that heavily relies on cues to move the story forward.
This is not the story of a young boy channeling his best Sherlock Holmes to find a murderer of a dog. It is a story about family and the lies told to keep loved ones safe. Be sure to catch the final three shows of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” It is not a show to be missed.