We kicked off the theater season with our first show at the Rep, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”. This play, set in England, tells the story of Christopher a school boy, who happens to be on the spectrum for autism. The incident is his finding the neighbor’s dog dead, with a garden fork stuck in it.
Christopher doesn’t like the colors yellow and brown or being touched. He does like numbers, lists, accuracy and Sherlock Holmes. Christopher is living with his dad, because his mother died in the hospital or so his father tells him. As it turns out the old man is not entirely honest. Not able to cope with Christopher, Mom ran away with the neighbor’s husband and is living in London. Dad killed the dog, knowledge of which causes Christopher to fear for his life. Most of the rest of the story deals with Christopher’s odyssey to London, where he successfully reunites with his mother. In the end, he passes his A-level exam, reconciles with his father and gets a puppy, making for a happy ending of sorts.
The cast when they are not portraying a particular character work together as an ensemble. The ensemble moves randomly about the stage, sometimes speaking, but mostly distracting. Acting like a Greek chorus they serve well to convey a sense of Christopher’s confused perception of the people around him. It is always a difficult task to put the audience into a character’s head. One usually ends up resorting to metaphors, which Christopher hates, because to his literal world view, these abstractions are like lies to him. The play tries to portray Christopher as different, but not deficit. Christopher comes to realize this distinction and accepting this reality allows his parents to move forward too.