Friday, April 17, 2015

"Dog Sees God"

Growing up I enjoyed watching Charlie Brown and the Peanuts on TV. It was a fun loving feeling. The simplest of feelings. Yet the most powerful of feelings.

“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” is a parody of these characters. "There is explicit language and themes in this parody. The underlying theme being anti-bullying and suicide." I do not see this as an accident that playright Bert V. Royal chose to do this particular parody. I see the simplicity in feelings the Peanut characters bring to us. Being a teenager is complicated. You experiment, push social norms, rebel, all just to find your spot in society. Though the TV show did not dig deep into what teenagers are really faced with, the underlying tone was there.

The play is entertaining. It does have a point-blank expression, and a dark side at times. The message is true. These young adults stepped deep into what ales our young society today. They did an excellent job. Hurrah, kudos, bravo to the cast!

Here are some photos of this parody play, starting with the cast and their character name (and implied Peanuts name), and their real name.

C.B. (Charlie Brown) – Patrick Stapinski 

C.B.’s Sister (Sally) – Kristina Rachowicz

Beethoven (Schroeder) – Eric Mack

Van (Linus) – Myke Podobinski

Matt (Pig-Pen) – Tim Orzelski

Marcy (Marcie) – Maria Machura

Tricia (Peppermint Patty) – Ayana Clark

Van’s Sister (Lucy)  Stephanie Panchisin

Spoiler Alert! Yes, I am going to give some things away. If you do not like spoilers, go see the play first!

Snoopy dies from rabies from attacking Woodstock. Okay, end of show. Go home. 

Not really. Actually, not at all.  There is much more to this show. Yes, the show opens to this. It gets you thinking of what is going on in the play vs what we have seen on TV. You realize this is not your childhood Peanuts show. Yes, the typical Charlie Brown we know, who carried a sense of failure about him, began this play. C.B. carries the burden of Snoopy’s death. He asks if Snoopy is in heaven. He cannot stop thinking about it. Very typical of Charlie Brown on TV, constantly bringing the same thing up, not understanding, trying to find wisdom through all of it.

In the end, C.B. has totally forgotten about loosing his friend, his pet. Oh, yeah. It does not seem to bother me as much now. I have other feelings I have to deal with now. This is how quickly his life changes in this play. It reflects real life.

Though you may not see it well in the photos, the stage back wall was Peanut-ized. C.B.'s monologue was also shown as being written over the wall. I like the imagery. Very cool.

I would not in a million years, have pictured Van (Linus in the TV show) growing up and smoking his blanket. This parody does a great job of defining, and keeping separated, the parody from the Peanuts shows.

The gossip girls, Marcy and Tricia. Talking about a fat girl, what she eats, that nobody likes her. It is more like Marcy and Tricia trying to impress each other by making someone else meaningless. Like teenagers do. (These two ladies did a great job holding their character in the play. You want to believe this is how they really behave.)

C.B. is still confused about his dog dying. Is there a meaning in all of it. He walks in on Beethoven practicing on the piano. Beethoven is a bit upset, because he has learned from experience that being to one's self if preferable than being around someone. C.B. downplays Beethoven's request that he leave, and sits down to talk about his dog. As if Beethoven really cares . . .

Beethoven basically has had it. He chews out C.B. for not caring about anything. This leads to the childhood pranks that C.B. had played on Beethoven in the past. Somehow to come to a reckoning, shake hands, and well . . .

C.B.'s sister is really cool. She may not think so, but she is. This platypus scene was funny.

The above scene with CB's sister, was the typical "Sally" we grew up (the Peanut character). Doing her monologue about something important to her. The photos below also reminded me of the Peanuts too. Cool fun dancing like we use to see them. Imagine them. It was funny, refreshing, bringing back the silliness of our youth.

This next scene you see the isolation Beethoven's peers give him. They did not invite him to the party because he was different. They wanted him out, because he was different.

C.B. stands up for Beethoven, and goes to great lengths to show everyone that Beethoven is his friend.

Though C.B. is Beethovan's only real friend, Beethovan does not understand the motivation C.B. has to do all this in front of everyone. I think Beethovan enjoyed his simple life. C.B. was making it complicated.

Van's sister was content, maybe even happy, being in jail. I did not see that coming. It's a parody! Another great and well acted scene.

Matt (Pig-Pen in the TV show) really hates Beethoven for changing C.B. In this scene he sits there while the others try at a conversation. Matt's stillness stirs in you the anger he is feeling against Beethoven.

C.B. working at a relationship with Beethoven, who really does not want anything to do with it, right now. A rebound emotion or attachment from C.B., perhaps, after his pet dog died.

Matt is angry and wants Beethoven to stay way from C.B. Beethoven, now not wanting to back down, calls Matt my his nickname, Pigpen, which Matt totally dislikes. Matt slams the piano top on Beethoven's fingers, breaking them.

Wah wah wah . . . as the adult voice would go on the Peanuts show. This time asking them how they feel Beethoven's suicide.

C.B. received a letter from a pen pal. In it the pen describes a boy that plays piano that moved in next door, and about the boy's dog who likes to sing as he plays. Sort of what C.B. may have hoped for an afterlife I think. This part of the play was nice. Each character took a line and walked off, leaving C.B. there to himself, do deal with his personal feelings.

What I saw in this play, this parody, is nothing new. I saw the same thing when I was a teenager. Bullying, casting out of people who were different than you, and eventually suicide because you were not fitting in. Peer pressure at its most unwanted moment. What I cannot understand, we went through it back in our day, and things have not changed today. Is our social surrounding this rigid that we stopped learning, feeling, understanding, accepting, caring? Why are we allowing this cycle to continue? Why have We, as adults, not shown the example to follow for our teenagers. Have we chosen to give up on them because it is too difficult for Us to deal with our teenagers?

Director – Jeff Casey

Sound & Lights  Adrienne Petty

Stage Manager – Kat Baum

Student Union Library 3rd Floor
Y Jean Chambers Hall Room 353
April 17-19, 24-26
Friday & Saturday at 8:00 PM
Sunday at 2:00 PM

Reservations: 219.937.8780

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Mary LeVan said...

thanks so much for the preview - seeing the show this weekend -

Ron Corthell said...

Saw the show Saturday night. Brilliant production. Characters were perfectly cast, IMHO.