Laughter, gasps and piercing silence streamed through the audience during the debut performance of “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” on March 16.
“Dog Sees God,” a parody of Charles Shultz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, features revamped characters struggling through high school and the controversies that arise when growing up: sexuality, drug and alcohol use, personal identity struggles and eating disorders.
“I’ve never seen a play that was quite so risqué,” sophomore Hope Fredregill said. “Some of the parts were unexpected and shocking, but I still enjoyed it a lot, which is surprising because I’m fairly conservative.”
While some of the characters from Shultz’s comic strip are recognizable, others have been transformed from girls with bows and boys attached to blankets to punks and stoners.
Junior Matt Sunderland, who plays lead character C.B., said his role challenged him to consider controversial issues such as sexuality.
During the play, C.B. stumbles upon childhood friend Beethoven, played by senior Will DeBiccari, while grappling with his dog’s death.
After a painful discussion concerning child abuse and teen violence, Beethoven and C.B unexpectedly kiss, causing some members of the audience to gasp and cover their mouths in surprise.
“I definitely think that scene [made] some people in the audience squirm,” Sunderland said. “But that’s a good thing. Theater should make you squirm. We want to tackle uncomfortable issues and break down barriers.”
While there are plenty of somber moments throughout the play, the audience laughed through whimsical conversations about topics such as the origin of sporks, the horrors of cafeteria food and a dance scene with choreography from the original cartoon.
The play ran March 16-19.
“After being involved with so many productions, I usually have a feeling about how certain plays will go,” Sunderland said. “It’s not always a good feeling, but I’m confident in this production and my fellow actors. We all believe in this script.”
Culture reporter Joanna Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org