In the middle of an emotional — and for that reason quite fascinating — rehearsal of our 2019 fall play, I said to cast members: “You know, we’re going to have to finish our work on Curious Incident soon. Theclock is ticking.” We all agreed that this was a really unfortunate fact. “I could go on working with you allon this play for the rest of the year,” I concluded.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of those plays that seems bottomless in itshuman complexity. Working on the piece has been like exploring a Shakespeare play — without thedifficulty of the language, of course. What is it about the story that is so compelling for actors anddirectors? It’s partly this: The characters are so real and complex they practically leap off the page. Ididn’t have this feeling at the start of rehearsals; I was thinking that Curious Incident, the wonderfulbook by Mark Haddon and the award-winning West End and Broadway play adapted by Simon Stephens,was a fairly simple, straightforward story about a boy on the autism spectrum, Christopher Boone, whofinds acceptance in a challenging world despite his differences. Over the course of rehearsals, however,we discovered that this is also very much a story about Chris’s father, Ed; his mother, Judy; their brokenmarriage; his beloved teacher, Siobhan; angry Mrs. Shears; lonely Mrs. Alexander; et. al., all of whomare trying against very tight odds to find happy lives. In short, the people of this play are connected in amatrix as complex as any pattern of numbers on a mathematician’s chalkboard that our teenage genius,Christopher, could imagine.
Aristotle says in his Poetics that an excellent play helps people “to live better lives.” This is what theauthors and the characters are most certainly up to in this play, we decided, and this is a real boon, so tospeak, for the audience. Christopher Boone might be any teenage boy trying to figure out how to make alife for himself in a complicated world that can often seem foreign and dangerous, even overwhelming. Hisjob is to find his inner genius, his genie, and put him to work: nothing simple or straightforward about it.
In the final analysis, Curious Incident is about how all of us must work like dogged detectives to solvethe mysteries of identity, to fit in, find our place, find our voice, make our challenges work for us if we areto live happily in such a curious world. We are all on some “spectrum” or other, the play seems to say.Christopher is not alone.
The Curious Incidentof the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephensbased on the novel by MarkHaddon
OC TOBER 31–NOVEMBER 2, 2019
PURRING TON S TAGEDIREC TED BY BRENT CIRVES
A Curiously Fascinating Play
BY BRENT CIRVES
Laura Aylor, Will Rodgers, and Andrea Payette