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BWW Reviews: DOG SEES GOD at Equinox Theatre

The holidays are generally a good time to reconnect with your old Peanuts pals. But this time, they're about 10 years older...and maybe Charlie Brown isn't such a good man anymore.

That's the case with Bert V. Royal's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, currently being presented at The Bug with Equinox Theatre Company. (You might recognize Royal's style from his 2010 Emma Stone vehicle, Easy A.) Dog Sees God premiered on Broadway in 2005, and it's been making rounds through college campuses and smaller theatre companies for years.

Basically, you've got CB (Charlie Brown, played by Matt Davis), whose rabid dog just died after slaughtering a little yellow bird. His sister (Sally, played by Tara Rose Kelso) can't figure out her identity. His friend Van (Linus, played by Alexander Evert) is a Buddhist stoner whose sister (Lucy, played by Rachel Graham) is locked up for setting a red-headed girl's hair on fire. There's also Matt (Pig-Pen, played by Sean Verdu), who's the epitome of a homophobic douchebag and, ironically, is a bit OCD. Peppermint Patty and her sidekick Marcie are there, too, but as Tricia (Janessa O'Fallon) and Marcy (Jane Simonds), but now they're those terrible, pretty mean girls who think everyone likes them. Somewhere along the way, the gang's turned against Beethoven (Schroeder, played by Logan Hurd) because he might be gay, so he plays piano by himself at lunch.

The show's plot is rather simple, thrusting these innocent characters into the somewhat disastrous world of modern teenagedom. What could play as an awkward afterschool special is presented with wit and understanding of the play's bigger message. Unfortunately, bullying and unnacceptance still play a visible role in high school culture.

Director Deb Flomberg crafted a cast that brings it the entire time. The show seems to speed by, if not for an unnecessary intermission at the height of drama--I would have rather the show keep moving forward. Colin Roybal's set is built to accomodate a few projection moments, leaving a backdrop of blank squares reminescent to comic-strip panels. While these work for their respective effects, I would have liked to see them utilized more.

The entire ensemble delivers a punch. While most of the parts are played as caricatures, their over-the-top demeanor doesn't detract from the play's deeper messages. Standouts include Verdu's hot-tempered Matt, who is realisitically frightening; Hurd's Beethoven brings out a tangible honesty of being that kid who just needs some peace; Graham, as Van's Sister, only has one scene yet her capriciousness makes for a masterclass in timing.

Equinox Theatre Company presents Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead through December 5, with Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM, plus one pay-what-you-can industry night still to be determined. All performances will be at The Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street in Denver. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door or $13 for groups of 6 or more (in advance only). This show is recommended for mature audiences only due to language and content.

Photos by Denver Mind Media

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