Arts & Leisure

Irreverent fun as “Dog Sees God” at GWC

“DOG SEES GOD” at Golden West College, with Chelsea Caracoza as Van’s Sister and Eric Modyman as CB. (GWC Performing Arts photo by Sylvie Nguyen).

By Thom deMartino

Sometimes the tarnishing of childhood icons is a necessary part of growing up.

In “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” at the Stage West Theater at Golden West College, CB (Eric Modyman), a high school teenager, is having an existential crisis: after the death of his beloved dog, the young man finds himself searching for answers about what lies beyond the veil — but none of his friends has a satisfactory answer. His sister (Destiny Dragoney), having turned goth just this week, tells him to pray to the goddess Hecate for his pet’s spirit; his stoner best friend Van (Tomas DeNava), a questioningly self-professed Buddhist, explains to him the concept of reincarnation; and his jock best friend Matt (Justin Wilson) theorizes that what we return to is what we emerged from (we’ll just leave that to the reader’s imagination.)

The troubled CB’s search for answers going nowhere, he gets caught up in the day-to-day drama of high school life and cliques, standing idly and even joining in as Matt brutally insults and bullies social pariah Beethoven (Brent Bannister) for allegedly being gay, while Tricia (Tori Michael) and Marcy (Tiffany Allen) throw shade at other students, sneak shots of vodka and plan for a raucous party while the parents are out of town.

Struggling to come to terms with some of the great philosophical questions of existence while dealing with the petty communal diversions of everyday life, will CB ever find the resolution he seeks? Good grief, what’s a conflicted teenager supposed to do?

Very loosely-based off the beloved characters of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic-strip, “Dog Sees God” is not for the faint-of-heart: taking iconic characters and turning them on their heads, placing the ageless characters in their teen years with more reality-based and contemporary issues, as well as making some bitingly hysterical social commentary in the process. While some audiences may balk at the darkness of the humor, the interplay and timing of the entire ensemble is masterful, flowing, and ultimately captivating. Addressing complex issues such as drug use, bullying and the search for identity, it’s an edgy production likely to leave the viewers mulling it over for some time to come.

“We’re here to tell a story about kids growing up,” says director Jill Cary Martin, “and it’s kind of fun that they happen to be the beloved ‘Peanuts’ characters — they’re so iconic — this writing is very clever and there’s a lot going on here you can play with… it’s just a lot of fun.”

While it’s an impossible task to single out any one cast member for their performance, as every one of them shines – witty, timely and utterly believable – special note should be made of Chelsea Caracoza, who absolutely dominates her initial riotous scene with CB with a mad, charismatic energy.

A challenging, contemporary and ultimately uproarious take on some staples of American childhood growing up, “Dog Sees God” deconstructs iconic characters and brings them to life with beautifully skewed vision.

“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”, Eric Modyman, Justin Wilson and Brent Bannister star in this irreverent and socially relevant take on some very familiar and iconic characters. Performing from April 7 – 9 at the Golden West College Stage West Theater (adjacent to the Mainstage Theater), 15751 Gothard St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. Tickets available through the box office at 714-895-8150, x1 or at Mature content and language.



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