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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You're a Good, Angsty Teen, Charlie Brown: Dog Sees God at Boxcar

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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Linus van Pelt, Charlie Brown's best friend in Charles M. Schulz's beloved Peanuts comic, usually played the role of the theologian amongst the gang, often reflecting Schulz's own faith by quoting from the Gospels. In Bert V. Royal's play Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, a teenaged Linus, "Van," (because in general writers seem to think a nickname is the marker of freer teenage affectations, and to avoid licensing issues, I imagine), is still quite the philosopher, except now he's a pseudo-Buddhist stoner with brilliant insights like: "My point is, Chuck B., that life -- it does go on."

Van might have grown up with a developed sense of zen but Charlie Brown ("CB") is still as cynical, doubtful, and insecure as Schulz's original character -- and why shouldn't he be, his beloved beagle Snoopy had to be put down after contracting rabies, violently murdering Woodstock, and attacking CB himself. Good grief.

Royal's play essentially sounds like Degrassi: The Next Generation tied to a twisted Rugrats: All Grown Up! concept. The Peanuts kids went from what we have called "the endless endlessness of the boring misery of childhood" right into the dramas of every teen after-school special, like drugs, sex, homophobia, and mental illness. The play had an Off-Broadway run back in 2005 with a cast of up-and-coming TV actors that brought a good dose of authentic teen angst; this San Francisco production also features young actors and brings the Boxcar's unique homegrown style to the dark comedy.

Dog Sees God premieres Wednesday, August 8 at 8 p.m. (and continues Wed-Sat until August 25) at the Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.). Admission is $16.

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Neha Talreja

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