“Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” made its debut at the Philip Lynch Theatre (PLT) for the weekend of Feb 14-16 and again the following weekend for a total of nine riveting performances.
“Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is a Tony award-winning play based on the book with a similar name. Set in the United Kingdom, a 15-year-old boy named, Christopher John Francis Boone, investigates the murder of a dog in his hometown of Swindon, when he’s falsely accused of the murder, which leads him to London to find the answers he’s looking for.
True to most Lewis productions, this play is entirely student run, from the tech crew to the performers. Each student in the Theatre department is required to do five practicums for credit, making the students balance the acting and the technical portions of the program because it “makes our students more marketable…productions want to cut money and if they can hire a performer who can also do costumes, they will,” said Jo Ellen Slowik, assistant professor of theatre and producer at the PLT.
Students received their roles shortly before winter break began, giving them a little over a month to prepare before the first day of rehearsals. Depending on the way the breaks fall, productions have 5-6 weeks before the final performance.
After weeks of preparing the students were able to show their hard work to the Lewis community. Noah J. Marvo brought to life the character of Christopher, who investigated the death of his neighbor’s dog Wellington. Capping out at two and a half hours, the play was depicted by eight Lewis Students with a minimal set. For some of the scenes the students were the props, making the play more interesting because there was the imagination that the audience needed to feel a part of the story.
Christopher Boone has a different mindset than most and numbers are of importance to him. When he becomes overwhelmed, he will curl into a ball on the ground and repeat a set of numbers, which calm him and bring him back to reality.
He documents his detective work in a journal that he makes into a book. Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher, played by Brianna Knutsen, reads and questions if what he is doing is right, making him want to follow through with his investigation, leading him on a journey to London, which answers another mystery presented to him during the play.
As the primary goal of the department is to challenge their students, the play was chosen in particular because of the difficulty in many of its acting parts. Slowik explained how, “Everyone would like to do musicals like ‘Mamma Mia,’ but we want our students well versed for the performing world.”
Presenting this challenge to their students paid off because they brought the story of Christopher to life for all the people who go see the play, leaving audiences in awe of the crazy journey of Christopher Boone.
Cast member Serena Comfort, who played Judy, shared Slowik’s opinion on offering challenges to young actors. “I’m really proud of what we’ve pulled together and I think the show gets better every night,” said Comfort. “There’s so many elements to the show that make it challenging but all the more exciting to take part in.”
The PLT will host “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” a musical, starting on April 17 as their next featured performance.