Dog Sees God reveals bittersweet transition

“Grief ain’t good” is sloppily spray painted against a yellow background, a reference to the iconic black and yellow polo shirt Charlie Brown is so famously associated with. This cleverly-constructed set design and spray painted message set the tone for the play before the production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead began this past Saturday.

Dog Sees God was first presented by Sorrel Tomlinson in 2004 and was adapted at Carnegie Mellon by Scotch’n’Soda Theatre this past weekend by first-year international relations and politics major Raz Golden in McConomy Auditorium. The story follows some of the beloved Peanuts characters as teenagers and the complicated lives that each of them has developed.

“There are lots of shows that try to take on the life of the teenager. We all know those shows, like the ones on ABC Family,” said Golden. “This show gives a view in the transition period that teenagers experience, pointing out that it is bittersweet. I tried to stay true to the story and script.” Regarding his directing debut at Carnegie Mellon with Scotch’n’Soda, Golden said, “The process of directing was scary but worthwhile, especially as a freshman. But we are freshmen; we are not like little children. We have as much to say as anyone else on campus.”

The play serves as an enormous juxtaposition with the image that the audiences have concerning the Peanuts characters. Most of those familiar with the cartoon and comic strip think of them as adorable, innocent, and lovable third graders. However, in this play, none of them is as adorable. None of them is as innocent (or innocent at all, really). And none of them is as lovable.

The ensemble held a strong dynamic throughout the production, as the actors seemed to work very well with one another. This was especially evident in one of the most memorable scenes where the muddled CB (first-year chemical engineering major Evan Starkweather) visits Van’s Sister (sophomore mechanical engineering major Christy St. John), who has been institutionalized for setting a red-headed girl’s hair on fire.

First-year computer science major David Allen said, “I thought the play was cool. I had seen the play before so I knew what to expect. It was still great to see how this production put it together.”

After the production St. John said, “I like being able to play around with my scene partners. I would put the scene in a smaller venue, though. I want to be able to touch the audience if I wanted to.”

The publicity for this show seemed to be less widespread compared to Scotch’n’Soda’s last production, Urinetown. For example, the Facebook event for this production was created Nov. 28 — only four days before the show’s opening performance — and had a little over 260 people attending and over 1,200 invited. Urinetown’s event group was created Oct. 19 when the show premiered on Oct. 27 and had over 450 people attending and over 2,100 invited.

Dog Sees God may have not have been as well-advertised as it could have been, but a talented group of students made the production enjoyable, although the play did feature many traumatic events. Ultimately, this raised the question of whether or not all the melodramatic details were really integral to the production. The production forced the audience to consider how these characters and their distressing stories are relevant to the world we live in.