A Very Clever Production of “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”

A Very Ingenious Production of “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”.

Boxcar Theatre who always produce very inventive plays is currently presenting a wonderful footloose production of Bert V. Royal’s 2006 parody “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” The play was motivated by that most definitive of comic strips “Peanuts” and it envisions the tykes as teenagers in the rudimentary and bleak world of modern day high school full of horny high “schoolers” are troubled about sex, peer pressure, social standing, bullying and other stuff.

The world created by Charles M. Schulz hasn’t changed much since it first appeared in comic scrip form in 1950 so the principle of the disposable takeoff “Dog Eats God” makes it so enticing.  It is 10 years later and Snoopy had been put to sleep after killing Woodstock. Charlie Brown who is known as C.B. in Bert V. Royals’ (Andrew Humann) is grift stricken of course and he is now dumped into high school.  Linus has become Van (Lucas Brandt), a stoner who smoked the burned remains of this security blanket. Lucy, known only as Van’s sister (Teresa Attridge) is a lithium-addled pyromaniac who has slept with, believe it or not C.B and Matt (Cody Brown), a testosterone-addled homophobe who hates his childhood name PigPin. Also there is Schroeder who in now called Beethoven (Bobby Conte Thornton) who plays Chopin and has declared himself gay and is the victim of Matt’s bullying.

This is a very adult play since the high school is a Darwinian hell turning Schulz’s world into a hormone-infested disaster imaged by overprotective parents or teen age movies. It falls somewhat between “American Pie” and “American Beauty. The playwright shifts his comedy toward melodrama, wading into a more meditative themes that touch on free will such as when C.B. asks his sister “That’s you’re the product of someone’s imagination and you can’t think for yourself because you’re really like some creation and that somewhere there’s people laughing every time you fall?”  This is heavy stuff for a comedy.

Director Nick A. Olivero applies a light touch in some of the quixotic themes with is an affectionate respite from the more hard-edged parody. He has assembled a terrific cast of young actors to play the various Schultz characters. Some the first time on a San Francisco stage. Andrew Humann is captivating as C.B. He perfectly morphs himself into the Charlie Brown in both looks and action. (one constructive criticism  if I might. On the night we saw him there were two scenes he mumbled his dialogue making it difficult to hear).

Bobby Conte Thornton who is currently enrolled in the Theatre Arts program at the University of Michigan gives a compelling performance as Beethoven (the Schroeder character).  Earlier this year he opened for Laura Benanti at the Venetian Room of the Hotel Fairmount.  Lucas Brandt who plays Van, the Linus character, a pothead shapes his flaky character with piercing cleverness. . He delivers the most consistent humor answering Sally, (C.B. sister)”Why does he have to be my brother?  replies “I think it’s because you have the same parents”. Mimi Falco is engaging as C.B. sister.

Kailey Hewitt as Tricia and Michelle Ang as Marcie deliver big, broad laughs as skimpily attired girls so tipsy that they crackle at every joke sitting at a school lunch table pouring vodka and rum into their milk cartons.  Cody Young makes a perfect loud mouth homophobe who seems to have some sort of sexual attraction for C.B. or maybe it’s my imagination.  Teresa Attridge gives a first rate performance as Van’s Sister in her prison scene.

Lighting by Mark Hueske, costumes that look like the Charles M. Schulz characters and set design by Nick A. Olivero add to the enjoyment of this two hour production.

“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” runs through August 25th at the Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-967(BCAR) 2227 or on line at www.boxcartheatre.org