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REVIEW & "Behind the Scenes" of DOG SEES GOD

Review by Phoebe Wantz Video by Dakota Crabtree

Published Friday, February 17, 2012 7:00 am

Can you just imagine the Peanuts Gang....now in high school...with more than their share of high school problems? Okay, maybe these are a bit more than the usual high school problems, but such is the milieu of the characters inhabiting Bert V. Royal's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead now performing at Muncie Civic Main Street Studio Theatre. Because of copyright reasons, their names have had to be changed, but we know who they are. It's been a favorite play around the country since its Broadway debut in 2004.
Director Jesse "Max" Gosman has cast this show smartly and moves the episodes and transitions along smoothly while hitting the occasional emotional notes honestly. His staging is brilliant and his actors move props on and off as scenes change almost unnoticed.
The set by David Sherrill was minimal, but was exactly what this show called for. Robert Dirden should be commended for his costuming.
It begins with the announcement that Snoopy has died. I know. It upset me too. Charlie Brown (now called CB) is more confused about life than ever having had Snoopy put to sleep after his beloved beagle was infected with rabies. CB's sister (Sally) is in search for her identity...currently a Wiccan performance artist. Van (aka Linus) has traded one crutch for another....his blanket for pot. Matt (Pig Pen) has become a neat freak, testosterone-charged homophobe bully. Peppermint Patty and her side-kick have transformed into Tricia and Marcy and they drink vodka in their milk in the cafeteria, gossip, sleep around, and trash other students. Van's sister (Lucy) has been incarcerated for being a pyromaniac. Beethoven (Schroeder) has suffered childhood sexual abuse by his father and is the target of bully abuse led by Matt.
CB (Justin Habban) is a natural in his role and makes you believe he's Charlie Brown as a teenager suffering the angst of trying to figure out who and what he is. Magnificent performance. CB's sister (Lori Nierzwick) was a delight as Sally....spunky, funny, and even sounded as you believe Sally would. David Rolando is amusing as a drugged-out but philosophical Van with flashes of brilliance. Derek Grabner has a psycho energy to his performance as Matt which was quite compelling, even frightening at times.
Liz Bancroft (Tricia) and Dallyn Brunck (Marcy) were absolutely outrageously funny as the two perpetually drunk slutty girlfriends who were constantly dissing the denizens at the other cafeteria tables. Van's sister (Breanna Lange) brings a real spark and a naturalness to her performance as the Lithium-addled fire-starting sister.
Beethoven (TylerSarkis) was all raw nerves and the audience could feel his pain through his performance. Ironically, and perhaps fortuitously this show echoes the daily news and the anti-bullying campaigns we hear about daily on the television and news broadcasts. There is a good message to be learned from this play. It is amusing, but very poignant. The language, of course, is very un-Schulzlike, but the language is appropriate for contemporary high school students ..........and much is quite funny.
Muncie Civic Theatre presents Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead in the Studio Theatre, February 17th-18th, 24th-26th & March 2nd-3rd. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8:00pm and the Sunday matinee on February 26th is at 2:00pm. Tickets are $10 for all ages.
Phoebe Wantz
Art & Soul by Phoebe LLC


Go "Behind the Scenes" of DOG SEES GOD! Get your tickets online today!

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