“Can I do anything?”
Before the doors to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” were opened, a pre-conference between audience members and math professors was set up in the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery concerning questions about the show and math in general. Math professors Shawn Rafalski and Joan Weiss led the conference, accompanied by professors Janet Struli and Stephen Sawin, and answered questions concerning mathematician stereotypes and concepts. At 7:40 p.m, the doors to the Lawrence E. Wein Experimental Theatre opened up for the show.
Entering the theatre, a pre-show was performed by the cast using the “walking dance” exercise. The “walking dance” is made to look as if it were natural, as if you encountered it on a day out on the street. This act seemed almost ceremonial for the synchronization of each actor to their respective parts. The other act was “flocking,” which takes that synchrony up to the max. Actors were to follow and change to any movements another would do, perfecting their exact movements. While not entirely perfect at times, their coordination was still impressive nonetheless. Boxes were used as props for actors to use or stand on, placing emphasis the type of object they were like luggage or a bed. A sound was played whenever the actors needed to move onto a different scene.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” follows Christopher Boone, played by Park Lytle ’21, in his investigation of the death of his neighbor’s dog. What follows at first to be a “whodunnit” murder mystery instead turns into a rough story of being an outsider among people. Within the play, Christopher is depicted as a boy lying somewhere on the autism spectrum; more specifically, high functioning autism. While Christopher may have a higher understanding of mathematics and astrology, he is lacking in social situations and an understanding of the world around him. From going into the train tracks to get his pet rat to not understanding how to get to a train station, Christopher is a character that feels almost like an alien in most situations.
The play was performed on an interesting stage, a large platform organized into 12 by 12 panels. The platform’s organization helped the actors understand where certain scenes occur or what actions needed to be taken. The tiles were able to be lifted to retrieve props hidden beneath, allowing actor to portray certain actions like getting things out a drawer. The lighting was well-used in adding emphasis on scenes where things become serious or to give some feeling to a change in the environment. Non-performing cast members were often used as props themselves alongside boxes, acting as everything from an ATM to a ticket booth. Their more prominent role was in helping the audience understand Christopher’s thoughts through sounds and movements. They reacted alongside Christopher in most scenes, for instance cheering whenever he found success to hunching over when he became distraught.
Overall, the play was a ride of emotions and great performances. Crude language was used in appropriate situations where characters got frustrated or angry as opposed to being everywhere. Flashing lights were used in some points in the play, a word of warning to those sensitive to light. But besides this, the play acted as a relatable experience to those with autism struggling in everyday situations.