Star rating: 5 out of 5
Life inside a five-block comic strip in the Sunday morning paper was so much simpler. Charlie Brown’s biggest worries were gaining the respect of his peers, mustering the courage to talk to the “Little Red-Haired Girl” or trying to kick that football.
Flash forward a few years, and Charlie Brown – or CB as he now calls himself – and the gang have entered into a life of binge drinking, pot smoking, eating disorders and suicide.
At first, it was comical to think that Charlie Brown had deeper issues than having a squiggle for a hairline or the fact that even his dog gives him no respect, but “Dog Sees God” was able to create a three dimensional character out of a cartoon.
No clichéd, teenaged angst dramedy here. The cast captures real issues and portrays them in an in-your-face expose that was at times shocking and frightening.
The emotionally moving play, directed by Mike Dias of the Urban Theater Movement, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” by Bert V. Royal, is a dark comedy that forces the audience to acknowledge these real-life issues delivered by the loveable Peanuts crew.
No longer is CB(Stephen John Williams) just a blockhead with no athletic skills. He has transformed into a high school bully who falls in love with Beethoven (Jesse James Rice).
His best friend, Linus or Van (Brett Fleisher) as he’s called, is a pothead. Pigpen has cleaned up and goes by the name Matt (Brian Sounalath). Lucy, Van’s sister (Dana DeRuyck) has been institutionalized. CB’s little sister (Lisa Valerie Morgan) is going through an identity crisis. And, Snoopy is dead.
The Urban Theater Movement is a new company that sprang out of the idea to create a “multicultural collective of artists” that represents the diverse community, according to their Web site.
The set was reminiscent of a third grade play. The nostalgia of the grade school playground mixed with the joints and drink spiking in the bleachers appeared to be a stroke of genius, blending elements of childhood with the adult world.
The dialogue was similar to the cartoon Charlie Brown’s dialogue – simplistic discourse interspersed with moments of reflection. As the play progressed, the dialogue matured as did the storyline.
Tricia (Collins Reiter) and Marcy (Mikayla Park) — formerly Peppermint Patty and Marcie — eased the tension and provided comedic relief with their drunken epiphanies and “oh- em- gee” moments.
CB’s little sister also captured the audience with her interpretive dance monologue and wild costume changes.
The entire cast beautifully executed CB’s transition into adulthood, however, the play does leave you reminiscing over t he simpler times. When did your life become so complicated, Charlie Brown?
“Dog sees God” is playing Fridays and Saturdays through Feb.13 at the Lounge Theater 2 located on 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, 90038. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.urbantheatremovement.com.