This year’s spring play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, featured a strong 13-member cast that centered around freshman Seamus Doyle ’21, who audience members said captivated them with his portrayal of the protagonist, Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum.
“Seamus did an incredible job,” Upper School Math Teacher Mark Fidler said. “He was so believable in his role, and he drew me completely into the story. The whole cast created a memorable night of entertainment in a play that stayed with me.”
The acting and the storyline also struck Halley Douglas ’19, who attended the show’s Friday performance.
“I didn’t know anything about the book or plot going into it, but Seamus and Max [Ambris ’19] portrayed their characters incredibly, and I know everyone in the audience was on the edge of their seats the whole time,” she said.
In her directorial debut with the Upper School theater program, Middle School Drama Teacher Christa Crewdson staged the play in a way that focused the performance on Christopher’s experiences. As the curtains rose, the 13 cast members were seated in a semi-circle, and they remained in that position for most of the play, except when they stood and moved to centerstage to deliver their lines.
“Seamus really lost himself in the role,” Ms. Crewdson said after the show. “At times when I was watching him, I forgot he was Seamus and felt I was watching Christopher.”
The play debuted with an open dress rehearsal after school on Thursday, May 17, before filling the theater with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Ms. Crewdson, who chose the play, said she fell in love with it when it was first published in 2003 and wanted to direct it for a long time.
“I love the flow of the play, and the characters, and of course the journey that Christopher takes,” she said.
The story begins one night when Christopher discovers Wellington, the dog belonging to his neighbor—Mrs. Shears, played by Samantha Savitz ’20—speared by a pitchfork in her backyard. Discovering what happened to Wellington immediately enthralls him, and he refers to himself as a “detective” despite his father’s enraged instructions against doing so.
The majority of scenes were written in the script to be read directly from Christopher’s notebook, so the audience witnesses events the same way Christopher does. As the school production staged the play with very few props, in most situations the audience had to imagine objects the actors were supposedly holding. One of the only items on stage was a projector toward the back that flashed images of what was running through Christopher’s mind as he occasionally struggled to express his thoughts.
Kira Bierly ’19, who portrayed Christopher’s mother, Judy, said she thought the minimalistic style of performance worked well for this show.
“It’s open and raw and focuses the audience’s attention on solely the acting and relationships on stage.”
Throughout Christopher’s numerous triumphs and setbacks during the play, he managed to sort through many of his troubles, something he did not think he was capable of in the beginning. The play ended with Christopher realizing his full potential, rising up on a chair, and exclaiming, “I can do anything.”
US French Teacher Candie Sanderson said she was impressed by the show and Seamus’s performance.
“The lead role was very demanding, and I thought Seamus did it justice, in a way that was both engaging and respectful of the difficult subject matter,” Ms. Sanderson said.
She added that the performance reminded her of the artistic talent at the school.
“Artistic talent is rare everywhere else, yet we seem to have it in such abundance here. It never ceases to amaze me.”
The cast prepared every weekday in the spring after school and all day on four Saturdays leading up to opening night.
Ms. Crewdson said she enjoyed directing high schoolers.
“I would love to do it again if Mr. Lindberg would allow me,” she said.
“It’s been really fun to get to work with students that I’ve worked with before and also to get to meet new students that I hadn’t met.”