Left Coast Theatre Company is presenting an excellent production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead by Bert V. Royal. It’s an “unauthorized parody” of the Charles Schulz “Peanuts” gang. Now the characters are teenagers and facing much more serious problems. CB (Michael Connor) is mourning the loss of his beagle Snoopy, who contacted rabies when he killed the little yellow bird named Woodstock and ate him. After holding a funeral in which only CB’s Sister (Val Garrahan) showed up, CB goes around asking his friends the meaning of life.
The gang includes Van (Ryan Whitlock), a stoner version of Linus, and Matt (Geoffrey Malveaux), a homophobe future version of Pig Pen (he is a coke head to boot). Matt gets his rocks off by harassing Beethoven (Ryan Engstrom), a withdrawn obviously gay Schroeder. Peppermint Patty, renamed Tricia (Isabel Siragusa), and Marcy (Madison Worthington) are here and rounding out the gang is Van’s Sister (Ellen Dunphy), an entrenched arsonist Lucy who was institutionalized after burning the Little Red-Haired Girl’s hair. These are the future version of the clique.
As CB, Michael Connor beautifully provides the emotional core of the 90-minute no-intermission play. His opening monologue sets the dark tone. Things get off to a hilarious start, but within 30 minutes it’s more serious.
Ryan Engstrom is outstanding as Beethoven. He brings passionate depth to the character and you actually feel for him. He also plays Chopin stunningly on the piano. Madison Worthington and Isabel Siragusa are hilarious as Marcy and Tricia, “white girls wasted,” since they drink Black Russians between classes. Geoffrey Malveaux is excellent as the class bully Matt. Ryan Whitlock gives an effervescent performance as Van. He gives a new meaning to the stoner character. Val Garrahan as CB’s Sister and Ellen Dunphy as Van’s Sister give topnotch performances. Chris Maltby’s direction is fast paced and he brings out the best in this young cast.
For a sensitive and darkly ingenious but entertaining evening at the theatre, you can’t go wrong with Dog Sees God.
Dog Sees God plays through May 20, 2017, at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Get tickets on line at lctc-sf.org.