GROWING PAINS FOR THE PEANUTS AT ‘DOG SEES GOD’
REVIEW: DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
Imagine what happens when the Peanuts are in high school overflowing with hormones and teenage angst. In Bert V. Royal’s play Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead this is the reality as he puts these characters and their problems front and center for audiences to experience. At this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, following an extended entirely sold-out run at The Blank in Hollywood, Worst First Kiss Productions stages this play at the McCadden Place Theatre. Given that this theatre company is run completely by high school students, Dog Sees God makes for a prime choice and it’s completely satisfying and authentic.
Director Jonah Platt (Ovation Award Winner and performer in Broadway’s Wicked) skillfully paces the scenes in this play while bringing out the strengths of each actor in their respective character. Royal’s play, similarly to a comic strip, consists of scenes of varying length that upon completion are gratifying to audiences while collectively making up the greater story. In each of these scenes Platt is able to draw out every bit of storytelling, character depiction and development as the play progresses. The staging of this play in the 60-seat McCadden Place Theatre is cleverly done with only the most necessary set pieces and full utilization of the whole space. The play is closed beautifully with the addition of a brief a cappella musical number that is juxtaposed with a recitation of letter from one of the characters.
Although the play is associated with the innocent Peanuts characters, one must remember that they’re in high school now, in a time where innocence is quickly fading and the harsh realities of the world are coming to light. The play covers a multitude of weighty issues such as: sexuality, bullying, drug use, sexual child abuse, eating disorders, suicide, and sexual relations. The identity of the Peanuts characters is something that Royal makes subtly clear via allusions with the names in the play and qualities reminiscent of the familiar comic strip personalities.
There is not a weak link to be found in the cast of Dog Sees God—each one of these talented high school students offers a compelling performance. The main character CB (Chandler David) is one of the most complex characters in this play; David grippingly takes audience on this journey keeping the focus every step of the way. Audiences will never think of “Charlie Brown” the same again. CB’s sister (Joey Maya Safchik) is an expert chameleon of personas, as her character searches for an identity Safchik fully commits to each new identity with unwavering tenacity.
Marcy (Judy Durkin) and Tricia (Charlotte Weinman) are an extraordinary comedic duo, all their scenes together are hilarious—charactering acting and comedic timing at its best. The school outcast is Beethoven (James Sanger) a subtle yet effective actor that draws audiences into this his sense of isolation, which turns into frenzy when circumstances begin to change.
It’s no wonder this production was a sell out at the Blank Theatre—the work, talent and energy of First Kiss Productions’ Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead is impressive.
READ MORE ABOUT WORST FIRST KISS PRODUCTIONS:
INFORMATION AND TICKETS:
Dog Sees God will play at the McCadden Place Theatre at
1157 N McCadden Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90038 on the following dates:
Sunday June 18th, 2017 @ 7pm
Friday June 23rd, 2017 @ 5:30pm
Tickets can be purchased here: www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4475