Thursday, May 3, 2012

Living Room "Dog Sees God" review by JLin

Teenage Blockhead delivers
Rating: 5

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
The Living Room

"Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" by Bert V. Royal is an "unauthorized parody" that follows the struggles of teenage versions of the popular Peanuts characters. Drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion, sexual relations and identity are among the issues covered in this very dark comedy. The "bare bones" style of this production is another perfect fit for the Living Room. The set was simple but effective, utilizing real grass and a fantastic special effect at the end of the performance which I won't give away.

Because the use of the Peanuts characters was unauthorized, Royal has changed the names that the characters go by to avoid any legal ramifications. However, there can be no mistaking who is who in this impressive rendition of the script. CB (Charlie Brown), CB's sister (Sally), Van (Linus), Van's sister (Lucy), Trisha (Peppermint Patty), Matt (Pig-Pen), Beethoven (Schroeder), and Marcy (Marcie) are all present and accounted for. Snoopy and Woodstock are only mentioned in the first scene when we discover that the beloved beagle contracted rabies and, before being put down, tore the little yellow bird to shreds.

Director Bryan Moses could not have found a more perfect cast to portray these iconic, yet extraordinarily troubled characters. Amanda Burkhart shone as CB's sister, a girl struggling to find herself, and delivered a very impressive monologue entitled "Cocooning into Platypus". Her comedic timing and physicality were spot on. Megan Turek (Trisha) and Regina Weller (Marcy) make a fantastic and completely believable duo despite the fact that both of them are better known for their technical roles in theatre. I especially enjoyed their stereotypical best friend moments when they finished each others' sentences only to turn and announce "I love you!" in unison. Their "Mean Girl" conversations were a welcome comedic relief from the more serious topics of the play. Kyle Dyck as Matt, the once filth-ridden child turned germaphob, gave a strong (and infuriating) performance. His portrayal of the testosterone driven, homophobic bully made him a character that the whole audience loved to hate, and yet we still felt a little sorry for him - a difficult balance to strike. Sean Hogge played the philosophical stoner, Van, who smoked the ashes of his old blanket in an attempt to become one with it. He had a particularly good moment in the cafeteria scene that featured him ranting about the absurdity of Mexican pizza. Jessica Franz, Van's institutionalized sister, only had one scene to leave an impression on the audience and she succeeded. Her explanation of why she lit the little red headed girl's hair on fire, the act that landed her in a padded cell, was dynamic and moving to the point where you were almost convinced the pyromania was justified. The two show stoppers were definitely CB and Beethoven, played by Bob Linebarger and Phillip Russell Newman respectively. Their emotional battle with homosexuality and the bullying and confusion brought on by it moved me to tears more than once. Their performances were so raw and real that I forgot I was watching my friends Bob and Phil; they truly transformed into their characters and left any semblance of themselves behind. These roles were the best I've ever seen from both of them.

The Living Room has never failed to impress me with their incredible productions and Dog Sees God is no different. This MUST SEE show runs until May 13th (with a possible two day extension if you play your cards right) so do not miss it. There are only 40 seats available for each performance so be sure to get your tickets early (you can order them online at ). And so, without any hesitation or surprise, I give the Living Room another 5 out 5.

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