Play portrays twisted ‘Peanuts’

The “Peanuts” crew is back, but not in its usual form. The theater department will present Bert V. Royal’s “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” a loving homage to the comic strip by Charles M. Shulz, “Peanuts.”

“Dog Sees God” is the answer for all who have wondered what happens to Charlie Brown and his friends once they grow up. Daryl Phillipy, assistant professor of theater, directs the play.

“The playwright has taken the universe and characters created by Charles M. Shulz in his iconic ‘Peanuts’ comic strip and transported them from the young children they are in the strip to a contemporary setting,” Phillipy said. “They are now in high school, dealing with all of the things that typical high school students deal with.”

Royal has changed the names of the “Peanuts” characters due to copyright issues, but the characters themselves are still recognizable. Charlie Brown is now CB, dealing with the depression accompanying the death of his dog, Snoopy. The play revolves around CB and his teenage friends as they overcome the adversity of life and try to understand their world through the difficulty of teenage angst.

Taking the motif of the “Dear Pen Pal” letters used by Shulz in his comic strips to explore deep existential questions, “Dog Sees God” takes the stance that “Pen Pal” is actually God.

CB continues to write to Pen Pal, wondering why he never replies and if he actually exists. At the end of the play, CB finally gets a response. Though the letter does not necessarily contain answers to CB’s questions, it does reveal the fact that there is hope.

The play has a disclaimer for mature audiences only, as there is drug use, alcohol use, strong sexual content and profanity.

“It’s the real world,” Phillipy said. “None of it’s sugar coated at all. Some things they say and do, well, might be considered shocking or downright vulgar. That’s our world. That’s a realistic look at the world. All of that is still contained and the play still retains its deep, theological message. If people just look at the shallow aspect of mature content, then they’re missing the complete message of the play, which is an attempt to explore the questions of, ‘What is this thing called life and how do I manage it?’ and ‘Where does faith fit in to all of that?’”

Phillipy said he is excited about the play and its content.

“The actors, a cast of eight Murray State students, have been doing a great job with it,” he said. “It’s fast; it’s funny. It makes you laugh and makes you cry. The play has got some depth to it. It’s extremely funny, but it’ll break your heart, too. It’s a very well-rounded play.”

LGBT Programming and the Murray Women’s Center will sponsor an opening night reception for the show Thursday. The reception will offer light refreshments and will be followed by a post-show discussion. A post-show discussion will also follow the Sunday matinee April 27.

“We will talk about the issues that are in the play because it certainly brings up a lot of questions to talk about,” Phillipy said. “We are going to talk about the issue of sexual orientation for sure, but we will also discuss the topics of bulimia, the female body image, drug use and alcohol use.”

The department is also partnering with Joshua Adair’s “Gender and Diversity Studies” class as some of the students will be facilitating the post-show discussions.

“Dog Sees God” will show Thursday through April 26 at 7:30 p.m., and April 27 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall 310B, The Actor’s Studio. Doors open at 7 p.m. and seating is limited.

 

Story by Kaylan Proctor, Contributing writer