CCAE Theatricals Tackles "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"

Delivering once again, a well-rounded, solid piece, full of heart.

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Photo Karli Cadel

There is a reason why CCAE Theatricals has both been nominated and won at the San Diego Critics Circle's Craig Noel Awards for two years in a row. There is a look, a feel, and a delivery to their productions that is just heartfelt and special.

In their first production of the year, the Escondido-based company tackled Simon Stephens's adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the novel by Mark Haddon, with a plot that takes place in a British suburb where Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old in the autism spectrum, is investigating Wellington's (the neighbor's dog) murder. Christopher lives with his dad Ed (Nathan Madden) and goes around the neighborhood asking questions to not only solve the murder but bring answers to Wellington's owner, his neighbor Mr. Shears portrayed by Melissa Fernandes. While Christopher compares his investigative notes with another neighbor, Mrs. Alexander, (Christine Hewitt) he learns a delicate truth that is discussed and worked through with his teacher Siobhan (Allison Spratt Pearce). As Christopher discovers more, the audience is taken through a journey that involves empathy and the lack of it at the same time, math, a pet rat, and the changing relationship with his dad and his mom Judy (Regina Fernandez).

Photo Karli Cadel

Aside from the play being an absolute gem, CCAE gave it its own shine and weight, delivering a well-rounded, very solid production. For both people familiar with the production, and those who have yet to see it, CCAE's version proves there is no limit to creativity. I believe that J. Scott Lapp's direction and Blake McCarty's projection design are true artistic synergies as Lapp guides a lovely cast through this multi-layered play within a play where each character has the opportunity to showcase their talent as well as a mean British accent thanks to Caitlin Muelder's coachings. Nathan Madden as Christopher's dad gives a set of emotions from one extreme to the next that truly communicates. Regina Fernandez brings deep emotion and with that, the family dynamic with the parents is raw and powerful. Both neighbors are a thrill to watch, as Melissa Fernandes delivers sass and comedic rush while Christine Hewitt is tender but also very funny. Berto Fernandez, -wow three Fernandez(s) in this cast!- is always a joy to see. Drew Bradford as Mr. Thompson and Dallas McLaughlin as Reverend Peters, bring hilarity and balance to the piece. 

Daniel Patrick Russell as Christopher is outstanding. The intention, the physicality, and the delivery are perfection.

The set design by Matthew Herman uses a stripped stage with a metal stairway and two screens, one that serves as a backdrop that projects different angles of the play and the actors being filmed on-site and in sight! this added such an awesome layer to the piece, giving it a modern multimedia aspect that not only has to do with the screen but with the camera people walking through the stage filming. Obviously, this impact also came across beautifully with Mike Billings's lighting design and Maxwell Transue's beautiful music.

This show is closing on Sunday and it is a must-see. Not only because of the theatricality, direction, and aesthetic but because the way it is treated gives just a slight glimpse at the life of someone with autism and how this is perceived and received by the rest of the community. Autism Consultant Marcy Fibrow shares truthful words about this in the program and having the space for that education and sensibilization makes it even more special.

For more information on ticket prices and performance times, please click here.

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