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Jackson Fiore / Gavel Media

Boston College Theatre's Production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Commercial theatre rarely engages with socially conscious topics such as neurodiversity, disability, and abuse. This past weekend, however, the Boston College Theatre department took up this challenge in their production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” BC’s performance of this Tony Award-winning play ran from October 19th through the 22nd. Starring Faith Wladyka in the role of Chris Boone, this play follows a young, neurodivergent protagonist who looks to solve the murder case of a local neighborhood dog, only to discover a life-changing secret in the process. Audiences watched in awe as the cast, composed of only 10 students, brought this captivating story to life onstage.

“We all worked hard to not only study the play, but to think about the backstory of the characters,” actor Casey Corcoran explains, who took on the challenging role of Ed Boone in this production. 

Yet thinking about these backstories is more difficult than the viewers understand. Although the play itself is based on a novel, the book received criticism for a lack of research, leaving playwright Simon Stephens with the task of reshaping both the story and characters. According to first-year student Carina Murphy, who read the book before attending the show, Stephens was successful in this mission.

“I think the play does a really good job showing the most important parts of the book,” Murphy comments. 

Interestingly, the play was originally written with a male lead, Chris; director Luke Jorgensen reached out to the playwright for permission to have Chris be a female instead, allowing him to cast Wladyka in the role. This change took the message of the play to a new level, alluded to by Wladyka in her reflection on playing the part: “I think that autism in girls is not seen as often as it can or should be, so I felt really grateful to represent something that important to me.” 

Composing a production that addresses the important topic of neurodiversity requires a strong awareness of the matter. Jorgensen understood this from the beginning, and so he brought in a special guest to speak to the actors: Mickey Rowe, the first autistic actor to play the role of Chris Boone. 

“A number of people involved with the production are on the spectrum, and so it was very important to all of us to do no harm and to hopefully do some good,” says Jorgensen. And that is exactly what they did.