DOG SEES GOD
CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD
By BERT V. ROYAL
Century Center for the Performing Arts, 111 E. 15 St., NYC
Opening Night: December 15, 2005 - February 20, 2006
Directed by TRIP CULLMAN
Set Design DAVID KORINS
Costume Design JENNY MANNIS
Lighting Design BRIAN MacDEVITT
Sound Design DARRON L WEST
Production Stage Manager LORI ANN ZEPP
Press Agent SAM RUDY
CB – Eddie Kaye Thomas
CB’s Sister – America Ferrera
Van – Keith Nobbs
Matt – Ian Somerhalder
Beethoven – Logan Marshall-Green
Tricia – Kelli Garner
Marcy – Ari Graynor
Van’s Sister – Eliza Dushku
Move over, "Good grief, Charlie Brown." It’s a new millennium. Charlie is a popular teenager, Snoopy and Woodstock are recently deceased, and Linus has smoked the remnants of his burned blanket. Ladies and gentlemen, DOG SEES GOD.
If your childhood was anything like mine, the coming of every major holiday was marked by a little tradition known as the Charlie Brown special. Even as a child, there was comfort to be found in the predictable and the familiar. Alas, "Good grief," has faded with the last century, and good old Charlie is now a teenager called CB who trades expletives with his cohorts. Everything changes.
In this incarnation of the Fringe hit, DOG SEES GOD, CB is portrayed by Eddie Kaye Thomas, of the American Pie films. His place in this generation of pop culture is notable enough that several audience members began to laugh the minute he took the stage, before uttering a word. Happily, when he did begin the opening monologue, lamenting the recent loss of his pet dog, we learned that the laughter would be a staple of the evening. While CB and the rest of the characters are familiar, the names have been changed, and the problems of youth have transformed into the angst of adolescence. With plenty of sex and drugs, drinking and partying while the parents are away, this play could have been called Peanuts Gone Wild.
In terms of style, the design of DOG SEES GOD is simple and obviously derivative of the comics. CB is dressed much as the boyish Charlie, but the rest of the characters have evolved their styles. CB’s sister (Sally) is goth, Van (Linus) is a stoner, Matt (Pig Pen) is both a germaphobe and a thug, Beethoven (Schroeder) is a victim of school bullies, including good old CB, Tricia (Peppermint Patty) and Marcy are classic bimbos, to hilarious effect, and Van’s Sister (Lucy, of course) has been confined to a mental hospital after setting the little red-haired girl’s hair on fire. She also gets the best line in the play.
There is so much humor in this piece that it goes totally awry when it gets deep and dark, touching on subjects like gay bashing and suicide toward the end. This turn cannot be reconciled with what comes before, because this is not a play full of dark humor, rather the type drawn from satire and our collective recognition of who the characters of DOG SEES GOD are meant to represent. How very cynical an ending indeed. That said, the play is such an indulgent if not guilty pleasure, that the generations who grew up with The Peanuts will likely excuse the flaws. Much as AVENUE Q invited the Sesame Street generation to grow up without leaving treasured entertainment behind, DOG SEES GOD introduces a world where Charlie Brown and friends are grown up, almost, and in a high school melodrama all their own.
- Kessa De Santis -