Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Company
Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
by Bert V. Royal
Directed by Lizette M. Morris
Unofficially based on the comic by Charles M. Schulz
Review by Kitty Drexel
This play dramatizes adult themes such as sex, violence and drugs. It is not suitable for kids under 14, prudes or the extra-sensitive.
(Boston) Hating someone for being gay makes as much sense as hating someone because they are 8 feet tall. Yet, in Dog Sees God (and much of the world), the peanut gallery unjustly hates Beethoven/Schroeder (Joey C. Pelletier) for just that. Beethoven is bullied mercilessly. They hate him because he is different, because that is easier than confronting what the real impetus behind their hate is. Inspired by the true stories of gay teenagers who were literally bullied to death by their peers and academic staff, Dog See God examines the consequences of absentminded hate speech and action. It points a finger of blame at the kids who bully and at the adults who watch.
The play first appears to be mildly-inappropriate adult fun but blossoms into a full-scale attack on the heart strings. Seeing the beloved characters from the Peanuts cartoons smoking a bowl can do that to a person. Even if you’ve only read the comic once a Sunday during your childhood years, they are readily relatable as extensions of the human experience. Bert V. Royal unofficially thrusts them into high school with the ease of a sledgehammer nailing a raw egg. As a result, our friends suffer mental and emotional issues. In fact, Lucy (Lizette M. Morris), is institutionalized for violence against the Little Redhead Girl but manages to be the voice of reason for the entire ensemble. Thank goodness “the doctor is in” because EVERYONE is sick.
Like the average teenager, every character experiences identity confusion in varying degrees but CB/Charlie Brown (Michael Underhill) most of all. You see, CB just lost his loyal dog to rabies. He wants to know where we go when we die, if his dog went there and if people go there too. Unlike the average teenager, the answer for CB could mean the difference between going to Heaven or diving directly into Hell, during and after life.
This production is perfectly cast and directed. The cast wears their characters like finely tailored suits and dresses. There are no weak links in this production. There are only strong platonic bonds that propel this production from potential “After-school Special” to an emotional hurricane that left last Sunday’s audience reeling. Every performer delivered a standout performance. It was a powerful experience.
Excessive force isn’t something kids use because they’re kids, as if they don’t know any better. They use it because they can get away with it. Just like adults. Attending this performance will hopefully change the personal views and definitions of equality and justice for the audience member. Proceeds to the performances will go to Dan Savage’s, It Gets Better Project. If you aren’t going to see it for the quality of Happy Medium’s work, please see it for the kids who will benefit directly by your attendance. We can’t just tell kids that it gets better; we have to make sure that it does.