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Eliza Dushku

Eliza Dushku - "Dog Sees God" Play - Theatermania.com Review

David Finkle

Sunday 18 December 2005, by Webmaster

"The love that dare not speak its name" has found its tongue after many decades — and, this month, it’s raising its voice to a high decibel level. On screens around America, two sheep tenders named Ennis and Jack are messing around at the mesa in Brokeback Mountain. And in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, which has moved to a commercial Off-Broadway run after being the smash hit of the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, characters strongly resembling the late cartoonist Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown and Schroeder are locking lips while audiences respond with shocked glee.

Bert V. Royal is the playwright stoked with enough chutzpah to imagine how Charlie Brown and pals — almost all renamed here, presumably to avoid legal repercussions — might behave in today’s world of questionable mores. Not surprisingly, these characters have been drawn (so to speak) much darker than the jolly adventurers of Clark Gesner’s authorized You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and the equally cheerful Snoopy!!! Royal’s gang is into marijuana, fellatio, and advanced angst, and their vocabularies are full of the bluntest four-letter words. Still apparently unsupervised by elders, they have no qualms about flapping their unwashed-out mouths.

Although David Korins’ set for the production at the Century Center Theatre is Charles Schulz-minimalist and bright — complete with a show curtain featuring an empty red doghouse — a number of disturbing incidents occur during this very funny 90-minute production, which comes across as a succession of live-action comic panels. The pivotal storyline concerns CB (played by the sweet, sympathetic Eddie Kaye Thomas) discovering his attraction to the piano-playing Beethoven (a tremulous Logan Marshall-Green). The complication is that the latter resists CB’s advances, in part because he’s being menaced by a bully called Matt (a glowering Ian Somerhalder), who’s undoubtedly based on Schulz’s Pigpen. Matt’s homophobia may spring from his own repressed homosexual urges towards CB, but that makes little difference in the actions he takes.

Elsewhere among the group — which no longer includes Snoopy and Woodstock, both deceased in the aftermath of an attack on the latter by the former — Van (the always on-the-nose Keith Nobbs) has burned his security blanket and smoked the ashes, CB’s Sister (tough little America Ferrera) is experiencing Goth growing pains, and Van’s Sister (Eliza Dushku, knowing as hell) is dispensing doctor’s advice from the loony bin where her arson problem is being analyzed. Best friends Tricia (the nubile Kelli Garner) and Marcy (the strutting Ari Graynor) have billowed into two babes in high heels and micro-minis whose heads would quickly deflate if the air was suddenly let out of them. (Jenny Mannis is the witty costume designer.)