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Paulanne Simmons

In the Doghouse

"Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead"
Directed by Trip Cullman
Century Center for the Performing Arts
111 East 15th St. at Union Square
Opened Dec. 15, 2005
Mon., Wed, Thu 8 p.m.; Fri. 7, 10 p.m.; Sat. 4, 8 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m.
$$65 ($25 on Fridays at 10 p.m.) (212) 239-6200
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Jan. 4, 2005

That anyone would want to bring the vulgar and immature "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" to the stage is bad enough. But the possibility that anyone would actually find this tasteless mess funny or relevant is truly frightening.

Dog Sees God, Bert V. Royal's first play, is billed as an "unauthorized" parody. It is his take on Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts gallery – ten years later. Although the characters are differently named, it's pretty easy to figure out who they are.

CB/Charlie Brown (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has overcome much of his awkwardness and become a regular guy – sort of. His sister (America Ferrera) is a Goth wannabe. Van/Linus (Keith Nobbs) is a stoner who smoked his security blanket after his sister and CB burned it. Matt/Pigpen (Ian Somerhalder) is an oversexed, coke-sniffing hipster. Beethoven/Schroeder (Logan Marshall Green) is gay and tortured by both himself and the other kids. Van's Sister/Lucy (Eliza Dushka) has been confined to an asylum since she set fire to her rival, the red-haired girl.

As for CB's two friends, Tricia (Kelli Garner) and Marcy (Ari Graynor), they're the nastiest pieces of humanity ever seen in a miniskirt.

To make matters worse, after an hour of humping, cussing and bad jokes, Royal turns serious and delivers a surreal, celestial message. Its moral value is perhaps meant to elevate the audience from the morass of the previous two-thirds of the play.

Trip Cullman directs, but the actors seem to be mostly having fun reliving college frat parties And despite its transference to the more upscale Century Center for the Performing Arts, this show, retains much of the minimum production values from its days in the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, where it won the Overall Excellence Award. (So much for the discretion of those venerable critics.)

It's hard to imagine why Schulz's estate would allow such a travesty to play onstage. Perhaps those lawyers counseled that it wasn't worth the effort to file suit.

After the first few minutes, in which it is revealed that Snoopy has contracted rabies, killed Woodstock and been put to sleep, it becomes painfully clear that Dog Sees God has little to do with the beloved Peanuts comic strip – not even as a parody, which might have been genuinely funny. Instead, the real source of Royal's cheap jokes is the teen flick. In fact Thomas played the uptight Paul Finch, who refused to use the bathrooms at school in "American Pie."

This reviewer never knew Charles Schulz. But she did know Clark Gesner, whose "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" featured songs like the beautiful "Happiness," the wise "Little Known Facts" and the tender "My Blanket and Me."

Clark was a kind and gentle man, a deacon at his church. It's hard to imagine what he might have thought of this salacious spectacle.

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