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Jackie Davis shines in ‘The Curious Incident …’

11/16/2017, 6 a.m.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” playing at SpeakEasy Stage Company through Nov. 25, follows Christopher Boone, ...
Eliott Purcell in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Nile Scott Shots/Nile Hawver

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” playing at SpeakEasy Stage Company through Nov. 25, follows Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old savant with autism who uncovers some unsettling truths while trying to solve the murder of a neighborhood dog.

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“Curious Incident” is based on a best-selling novel of the same title by author Mark Haddon. The script, though heavy-handed at times, was engaging and just the right amount of humorous. The character of Boone is well-played by Elliott Purcell, but it’s through his teacher, Siobhan, played by Jackie Davis, that we learn the most about him.

Siobhan acts as the show’s narrator, reading the events of the play from the story Boone wrote for her. In this way, she is his voice, saying the things he can’t otherwise express. “The narration leads the story and leads the movement of the ensemble,” the actress says.

The SpeakEasy cast delivered an impeccable performance, handling the physicality of the show particularly well. While Siobhan narrates Boone’s mind, the ensemble acts out each line, each thought. This demonstrates how many moving parts are involved in Boone’s thought process — he has so many ideas it takes a whole cast to articulate them.

Davis says she was honored to represent teachers like Siobhan who dedicate their lives to neurodivergent children. “It takes special people to work with teens who have trouble working their way through the world, and they’re heroes to me,” she says.

Boone’s relationship with his divorced parents and their relationship with each other constitute much of the play’s action. His parents often ask Boone to be good for them, a concept which is difficult for him to understand. Davis points out, “Siobhan is the only one who sets guidelines with him rather than negotiating with him.” She knows best how his mind works.

Though Boone’s parents play central, chaotic figures in the show and instigate much of the drama in the plot, the emotional growth comes not in Boone’s relationship with them, but in his relationship with himself. He accomplishes great feats throughout the performance and learns a kind of self-reliance that he was never allowed to use previously. This results in an overt, heartwarming realization that he is just as capable as anyone else.

Davis says, “We live in a world with lots of stories. People like Christopher are part of that world, and it’s important that we hear from them.”