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Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead - Acting Edition Paperback – January 1, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Inc. (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822221527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822221524
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Just read this today on the train to Albany from NYC. The vast majority of this read like a light literary exploration of comedic masturbation intended to shock and offend, with little or no point or purpose (hence the 4 stars). However, the final three pages pulled it all together in a breathless, world-changing (at least for me) sob-fest guaranteed to bring the most staunch of middle-aged men and women to their knees in tears. This conclusion moved me more than the end of ANGELS IN AMERICA, maybe cos it came out of f$%^&ing nowhere, and that's saying a LOT!!
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Burt Royal brings the Peanuts Gang into the 21st century, and it's not a pretty sight.

The characters are recognizable as Peanuts analogs, not just from their names but from their habits and tendencies; even the characters who are merely mentioned (Franklin, Freida, The Little Red-Haired Girl) make sense from the minimal descriptions given them. Only the Beethoven character requires some work for his character to make sense.

The plot of the play involves CB mourning his dead dog, trying to figure out the meaning of life and trying to do right by someone he had known before some troubles threw him into the "Violently Outcast" category. His friends are unable to answer or mourn, and his attempt to right things goes mortally wrong.

As long as the characters stay in their stage reality by using their stage names the action seems to drift from dysfunction to dysfunction. Every thing that could go wrong with Teenagers today, from drinking to eating problems to extreme navel-gazing to bullying to cattiness to lazy religiosity is hit, one at a time with each character. As stage names resolve into Peanuts names, however, the stage reality slips off with painful consequences for all involved. And the final scene will throw all but the darkest of hearts into tears.

The major drawback to the play is that the character depiction seems to require a bit too much of an early 2000's understanding of teenager behavior, and of that only what people consider wrong with kids nowadays. The characters (Outside of CB) seem unable to do more than pay attention to themselves; hence the turn to the worse when one character gets forced out of his stage reality by a name said by another character (One Word: Pigpen).
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Charles Shultz's PEANUTS comic strip began in 1950 and ran until his death in 2000. It remains in syndicated "re-runs" in many, many newspapers to this day. Along the way, the comic strip inspired numerous television specials, movies, and the 1967 stage musical YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN, which continues to be widely performed today. Its characters are easily among the most beloved pop icons of the 20th Century.

And then there's Bert V. Royal's DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD, which is generally described as "an unauthorized parody" of PEANUTS. The play began as a series of readings in 2004 and continued through various tweaks to emerge as a popular off-Broadway show a year or so later. It has been widely performed, particularly in the wake of several widely reported cases of bullying that ended in suicide.

The characters of DOG SEES GOD are clearly riffs on the children from the Peanuts gang. Charlie Brown has become C.B. and is mourning his dog, who recently died of rabies. His sister (never named but clearly Sally) is going through weekly religious phases: last week she was Baptist, this week she is wiccan. Linus Van Pelt, now known as Van, has become a pot-head, and his infamously crabby sister (like Sally, never named but clearly Lucy) is locked up in a psych ward as a pyromaniac. Peppermint Patty and Marcie have transformed into Trisha and Marcy, both of them pretty and pretty slutty. Pigpen has morphed into a germaphobic and homophobic jock named Matt. And then there is Beethoven, a new take on Schroeder; his father was arrested some time ago and Beethoven is now the outcast of the crowd, which hates him because they think he is gay.

The play moves along in a series of short scenes that are linked by C.B.
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Clever in its attempts to continue the Peanuts universe into adolesence. Filled with angst and profanity galore, this play seeks to teach valuable lessons to the audience... be who you are, stay true to your friends, and do what you can to put an end to bullying and harrassment. My only complaint is that the play was unnecessarily vulgar in MANY places. It's as though the author wanted to shock instead of explore.
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DOG SEES GOD is an interesting show: it imagines Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang grown into teenagers - and very dysfunctional teenagers at that! The show is a little extreme in its portrayal of teen behavior, and more than one critic has noted a certain 90s sensibility that isn't necessarily aging well. Despite this, however, the script is interesting and readable, taking those clean cut kids and forcing them to confront a real world where the problems are much more serious than whether or not CB gets a chance to talk to the little red-haired girl.

Our local community theatre staged a production as part of its Late Night Theatre series, and the show worked well for that crowd. It's got some edgy material that may be a little much for your run of the mill community theatre mainstage, but for educational theatre or spaces known for putting on grittier shows that push the envelope this is a dark and funny little show to consider.
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