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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Taryn Boonpongmanee '24 Associate Editor
March 4, 2022
Credit: Grace Stone

From Tuesday, February 22 to Saturday, February 26, the Theater co-curricular performed Simon Stephens’ mystery play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the 2003 novel.

Director of Theater Catriona Hynds chose the play because it was unique, especially in comparison to previous Deerfield productions. For instance, the fall term play, Rumors, featured a realistic unit set that simulated the inside of a house. Mrs. Hynds said that The Curious Incident, however, is “genre-defying because it’s not naturalistic. It has 57 scenes in all different places, and so you can’t do that in a naturalistic manner.”

Mrs. Hynds was inspired to choose The Curious Incident for the winter production after her Acting II class read it last year. She said, “I never considered doing it until just by chance, Gavin [Mariani ’23] happened to be the student reading the part of Christopher Boone. And he did it with such profound respect. I thought that we could do a production of this and do it justice because of Gavin Mariani.”

Assistant Director Chelsea Davis ’23 worked closely with Mrs. Hynds in the months leading up to the show. As the Assistant Director, she worked at the right hand of Mrs. Hynds, the Director of the play. She ran rehearsals, blocked scenes, and helped with line delivery and whatever was needed for the success of the play. Davis said, “I work on trying to make sure that all the little things are in place and the nuances are all right in the play. The play is a mix of my style and [Mrs. Hynds’] style mixed together.”

The Curious Incident features a neurodivergent protagonist, Christopher, who is described by Mrs. Hynds as “exceptional but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life.” Christopher’s neurodivergence played a central role in the preparation process for the cast to give the play life with sensitivity and compassion. Davis said, referring to the cast’s initial readthroughs in December, “We wanted to make sure that we respect the people that are a part of the [autistic] community and that they had enough information for that.”

Gavin Mariani ’23, who plays Christopher, has been performing in shows since 7th grade. Since then, he has done seven plays, including Rumors, and three musicals, including Little Shop of Horrors. Remarking on playing such a sensitive character, he said, “The audience will really connect with him and stand by his side through- out the show. I feel confident and excited about this part, but I really want to stay true to Christopher.” To properly portray Christopher, the company received help from the parents of autistic children within the Deerfield community. Mariani said, “I took five full pages of notes listening to them share their experience. The most important things I learned were that repetition and predictability are key to understanding someone with autism and that if you’ve ever met an autistic person, you have met just one autistic person.”

Lily Pierce ’25 played Siobhan, a teacher who guides Christopher throughout the play and is able to understand and respect Christopher. As a freshman participating in her first Deerfield production, Pierce had stepped into a mature role usually reserved for upperclassmen. Pierce said, “To say the least, it has pushed me as an actor in the best way possible. The show is in the round [mean- ing audience members surround the stage on four sides] and Mrs. Hynds has mentioned how liberating of an experience it can be, and I couldn’t agree more so far.”

To ensure that the play is complete with appealing visual elements, the tech crew worked to build everything from scratch. The set consisted of twelve different boxes, about 10.5 feet by 10.5 feet, that can be lit from within, and 150 lighting cues provide for an interesting viewer experience. Three boxes are on each side of the square, but can be moved around, for the purposes of symmetry. Sophia Wolbach ’23, a member of the tech team, said, “Without [lighting], the audience can’t get fully immersed in the show. We spend a lot of time making sure that we can capture the actor’s expressions and movements.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time challenged Deerfield actors to try something new and different. Mariani concluded, “It has been a feat, but Mrs. Hynds, and this cast, composed largely of freshmen, give it their all every day. Not to mention that the truly incredible quality of Deerfield theater is, I think, something you can’t find anywhere else.”