By Bob Evans
What happened to the Peanuts gang when they grew up and found an alternative society so far removed from the happy, carefree days of childhood with the pressures of adolescents and raging hormones attacking their bodies? One take is the one-act play, “Dog Sees God” being performed at UMKC with a cast of undergrad students at the helm.
The gang has grown up; Snoopy and Woodstock have met an unfortunate end; and their final chapter signals the warped prospects of the Peanuts family as they face the challenges of reality while discovering their own personalities. It’s all fun and games, teenage style as booze, drugs, peer pressure, LGBT issues, self-concept come into focus and they all struggle for their individuality.
The play opens with Charlie Brown, CB, recanting the loss of his dog, everyone’s favorite Beagle, Snoopy, and the story that Snoopy contracted Rabies, killed Woodstock, and suffered his own untimely death as a result. Such a somber way to begin the update on childhood’s comic strip favorites.
From there, the audience sees the almost grown friends as they deal with their teenage problems. Each character skews off from the characters known from the strip into new, out of control personalities. Many journeyed far from the norm, well except Beethoven, whose love for music and his piano remained firm.
“Dog Sees God” presents a comedic look at the dilemmas of teen years with lots of dark and gloomy moments of the characters’ struggles to find meaning in his or her own life. Students in this production did a nice job of creating a character based on a cartoon strip and injected his or her own projections in that characters. Overall, the show gives students a chance to modify a character and play with different character structures. Watching the younger troupe of actors build shows Kansas City’s future thespians get solid training and good opportunity as they work through their undergrad programs.
In this production, one can see the character development in most of the students. Sometimes a bit too strong, and sometimes not always consistent, the idea and concept work as this is a learning process. None of the characters were weak, and some showed more depth than others. It’s all within the learning curve. “Dog Sees God” definitely deserves a look. It’s fun and touching. Adolescence is never easy and this cast does a remarkable job of showing the emotional insecurities as childhood changes to semi-adulthood. Good job by the UMKC students.
The cast is Steven Miles, Jaanvi Kumar, Malcolm Gibbs, Brandon Gibson, Frederick Rivera, Claire Stenzel, Hannah Woosley, Hilary Metzger. The production staff is: Stephanie Roberts, Scott Stackhouse, Catherine Cannon, Sadie DeSantis, Kate Hershberger, Chuck Hayes, Tristin James, Emily Ho, Claire McEwen, Trent Welch, Brian Moore, Emma Davis, Zach Kuhl, Heather Andrews, Sandra Lopez, Hector Quintero, Taylor Smith, Zach Pierson, Taylor Smith, Matt Be Schorr, Ja Lyn Grayson, Pearl Fuller, Jay Templeton, Catherine Cannon, Carlita Washington, Duncan McIntyre.
“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” by Burt V. Royal is directed by Stephanie Roberts and continues through Oct. 8 at UMKC on the lower level of the performing arts center.
Tags: UMKC, UMKC Theater, “Dog Sees God”, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment