Angst-ridden teenage 'Peanuts' gang reappears in Straz Center play

By MARTY CLEAR

Times Correspondent

Snoopy has contracted rabies, devoured Woodstock and died. Pig-Pen has morphed into an obsessive-compulsive germophobe. Linus is a drug addict. Schroeder might be gay, and Lucy has been institutionalized.

Bert V. Royal's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, brings us the characters from Peanuts but advances them some 10 years into nascent adulthood. The play garnered critical acclaim and amassed tons of awards when it played in New York's Fringe Festival in 2004 and in small theaters beginning the following year.

It's billed as a parody, but David Jenkins, who is directing a new production by Jobsite Theater, said it's edgier and more substantial than that description might suggest.

"The characters are in their teens, and in a way it's part of the genre you'll recognize from films like The Breakfast Club and Heathers," Jenkins said. "But the writing has a little more of a Kevin Smith attitude."

Despite its comic strip origins, Dog Sees God is not family fare. One review from its off-Broadway run noted that the teenage characters use the F-word more often than the salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross.

The characters here have different names, Jenkins said, probably at least partly for legal reasons, but they're very recognizable as the Peanuts gang. Charlie Brown has become CB, Linus Van Pelt just goes by Van, Peppermint Patty is now called Tricia.

Snoopy (never named) has died just before the play's action starts, and the still-philosophical CB tries to reconnect with old friends to try to figure out what happens to us after we die. His quest sparks some rekindled (but redefined) relationships among the gang, and also some flareups of hostilities.

Jenkins' cast is made up mostly of Jobsite regulars, including Shawn Paonessa as CB, Kari Goetz as CB's sister, Jason Vaughn Evans as Van, and Katrina Stevenson as Tricia.

>> If you go

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

The show runs through Aug. 22 at the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Shows are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday. $24.50 plus fees. (813) 229-7827 or strazcenter.org.

Angst-ridden teenage 'Peanuts' gang reappears in Straz Center play 08/04/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 5:44pm]

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