by Alexa Villareal
Dog Sees God may be based on the Peanuts characters, but besides their occasionally familiar color choices and tag lines, they are completely changed. Struggling with the general issues of high school, the Peanuts gang have broken some ties and grown up. The play is rife with angst and depression, layered from the rifts between characters. We follow the main story of Charlie Brown, known exclusively in the play as CB, as he maneuvers his way through hardship and self-reflection.
The set is meager, a few props coming in and out to convey different rooms in the high school or even a penitentiary guest room, but it does not need to be elaborate. The simplicity plays into the strength of the script and the characters, leaving no setting to confusion, but pulling no attention from the words being spoken. The frequent musical allusions to the story we know and love from Peanuts along with many impressive on-stage piano pieces by Andrew Gaffney as Beethoven help to break the tension that builds with the intensity of the soliloquies.
The actors do an incredible job of portraying the kinds of people we all likely encountered in high school. Andrew Meck flawlessly portrays the stoner, who sometimes may understand a little bit more than he lets on. Ned Allen is the player who bullies other kids in order to make him feel more. Elizabeth Koennecke is the surface level self-obsessed mean girl, but who truly suffers from severe self-esteem issues. Maisie Laud is the best friend who just wants to fit in and be loved. Danielle Wehner is the “crazy” but honestly caring and self-conscious ex-girlfriend. The combination of them all makes the performance raw and honest; a truly spectacular revival of the years we all loved to hate.
Mary McCartney provides the much-needed comic relief, reminding us all of what it felt like to try and find an identity. Her sections alone on stage bring the audience a dose of laughter alongside reflection. Andrew Gaffney in his portrayal of Beethoven really brings in the emotion. The truth in his performance of a confused teen, whose life is full of bullying, loneliness, and abuse makes it hard to not cry at a few scenes. Alongside Will Krom as CB, the two experience some of the rawest scenes of the whole play. From trying to navigate labels to talking through a friendship fallen out, these two boys bring the play to its most memorable moments.
Bummed about missing the full-length play at the Bonn Studio? Well you’re in luck! The BC Contemporary Theatre will be putting on Dog Sees God again and FOR FREE in an abridged version at this year’s BC Arts Festival!
On Friday, April 29th at 12:45PM in the Stokes Art Tent (on the Stokes lawn), the abridged Dog Sees God scenes will play from 12:45-1:30pm. No tickets required!
Also, don’t miss Contemporary Theatre‘s Playwriting Extravaganza from 3:30-5:00PM on Saturday, April 30th at the Stokes Art Tent, as well. This collection of student-written short plays will be sure to entertain.
Don’t forget to check out the full Arts Festival schedule so you don’t miss any of the exciting events this April!