Photo Essay: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Madalen Erez, Coral Springs Charter School

Theatre’s production, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, aired November 4. It was met with great success. “I put my all in, and feel like it showed,” said Matthew Menendez, who played lead Christopher Boone. “People loved it, people congratulated me. I got very sincere comments that gave me reassurance that I was truly doing Christopher justice.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opens with the murder of Wellington, the neighbor’s dog. As Christoper investigates, he learns more about himself and his family. “Nailing this character was crucial,” said Menendez.

Getting into the mind of Christopher was important for Menendez. “I liked being able to add little moments I felt justified my character. It wasn’t just me memorizing the script and taking all the stage directions to heart,” said Menendez.

Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher, serves as his guide throughout the play. “At first, looking at the script, I assumed that Siobhan was meant to be a sage, caring older women. In some ways, she is,” said Rebecca Blitz, who played Siobhan.

Blitz soon realized that this character had more nuance than she initially thought. “As we carried on in rehearsals, I realized most of the characters in Curious Incident are deeply, deeply flawed. Siobhan at times, tells Christopher to back down, or try a different route than the one he wants to go on. I think that Siobhan more times worries about Christopher instead of caring for him. She is so anxious he will get hurt, she shields him from the world.”

Blitz found the payoff of her character to be satisfying. “It was incredibly rewarding–at the end, Siobhan is proved wrong, and she understands that Christopher was always braver and stronger than she gave him credit for.”

Complex characters were a hallmark of this production. Max Penn played the role of Christopher’s conflicted father, Ed. “Every character Ms. Butler gives me challenges me in a different way. Ed was especially difficult because his character goes against the way I portray myself, and the persona I like to give off to everyone,” said Penn. “Luckily, acting as the character gave me lots of fulfillment, because it allowed me to reach into a version of myself I didn’t even know was possible.”

The relationship between Christopher and Ed is the driving force for the plot. “My favorite moments were funnily enough, my angry parts,” said Penn. “Feeling the anger, and being able to set a mood that you can feel in the whole auditorium is really the whole goal of being an actor, and my performance allowed me to do that.”

DJ Tarquinio, who played Roger, agreed that the angry moments were his favorite. “It was always really funny, because Max and I are such good friends, and yelling at each other was unnatural. Jo, Max, and I would often laugh while we were rehearsing this scene because of how foreign it was to us. In the end, it was fun to perfect that anger we were all supposed to have,” said Tarquinio.

There were many unique moments involving the full cast. “This show gave me lots of joy because it allowed our creativity to flow,” said Penn. “Nothing in the show was taken; everything was ideas bounced off one another. That’s what I do drama for: collaboration, creativity, and a great drama family.”

Some scenes were particularly challenging to produce. “It’s probably a surprise to nobody, but our hardest scenes were the space scene, and the train station scenes. Because these scenes require so much teamwork, coordination, and trust, it’s time consuming to direct and block these moments,” said Blitz.

Nonetheless, Blitz thinks they were rewarding. “It was worth it in the end, as these scenes evoke the feelings we meant to give them. It gives the play this otherworldly, contradictory tone, and I love it,” said Blitz. “The audience is never sure which scenes are true reality, or which are dreams. I think it’s wonderful that we never really tell them.”

The tech for the show also involved a large amount of creativity. “The greatest challenge for me was building platforms for the set,” said tech director Julia Lorber. “I was proudest of the back wall, though I give all the credit to Rowan. We were able to create an almost exact replica of the original model of the set, and it became my favorite thing to show off.”

Overall, Lorber enjoyed her experience working with the show. “My co-director, Rowan, and I were able to bounce off each other and find a good work balance. It was a fun experience in a super supportive environment,” said Lorber.

Blitz believes that this show especially stands out among the rest. “We’ve never done anything like this before. Christopher sees the world in such a specific way, and what he goes through is unlike anything I could ever imagine,” said Blitz. “The play isn’t a tale of magic, or horror, or romance, or science fiction. It’s just a story about a boy and his ability to trust himself and take a risk. Christopher takes a leap of faith. We watch, and we root for him. I think it’s probably my favorite play I’ve ever done. We all worked so hard, and it was great.”

This story was originally published on Paw Print on November 15, 2022.