Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead Reviewed
By Doug Strassler Dec 19, 2005, 2:39 GMT
Eddie Kay Thomas and Keith Nobbs
The play begins in the aftermath of a most unfortunate event: beloved Snoopy has died. While most characters are sympathetic to Charlie Brown, here known as CB (played by Eddie Kaye Thomas of American Pie), their minds are all elsewhere. His friend Linus, now known as Van (Keith Nobbs), is a pothead who even smoked his own signature security blanket. Pigpen is now Matt (Ian Somerhalder, late of Lost) a germophobic, homophobic horn dog who often takes up with Tricia and Marcy (Kelli Garner and Ari Graynor), the sapphic, Valley Girl updates of Peppermint Patty and Marcie. America Ferrara stars as a goth version of Sally, known simply in God as CB's Sister.
Things turn slightly sinister in Bert V. Royal's script (which first premiered at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival) with the entrance of Beethoven (Logan Marshal-Green, a FOX staple last year with recurring roles on both 24 and The O.C.), formerly Schroeder and now a sexually confused teen who may have been molested by his jailed father (no, the show never veers far from the dark side). It's not long before CB and Beethoven come out of the closet together, with repercussions for all other characters.
Director Trip Cullman guides the action in God smoothly, particularly in the show's earlier, lighter scenes (particularly when making direct reference to the strip and imitating the characters' dances from the cartoon), but once it abandons black comedy to melodrama, his scenes feel purely episodic and the show feels tired. Marshal-Green is actually a nice surprise, able to hold his own ground during these later scenes. But it is when Royal mines more comic material that God has liftoff, especially in the interplay between Garner and Graynor, who demonstrate an enormous deal of physical and lingual discipline as the depraved mean girls. Nobbs, too, is also quite effective, underplaying Van to the hilt.
Eliza Dushku and Eddie Kay Thomas
It is a shame, too, that the uneven show gets so serious by the end, lifting its coda from no less stark a source than Alexander Payne's About Schmidt. This is, after all, a show adapted, however loosely, from a comic strip. So why must it end in a character's death? That's not funny.