Queer Eye From A Straight Guy: The Peanut Gallery
Growing up, there are moments and items from your childhood that somehow stick with you throughout the rest of your years. There are nostalgic gems that sneak into the trunk of the vehicle we are using to cruise through life and surprise us at just the right moment. Untouchable, they follow us around like an invisible Nancy Drew and brighten our spirits by bringing back the memories we may have temporarily forgotten. Nostalgia is so powerful because it is different for everyone but somehow has the same effect. These items, whether they are memories, photographs or pop culture icons, help define who we are at the very core because they are the things that made us feel alive to begin with. And at some point or another, our precious nostalgic memories sneak up without warning and remind us why we fell in love with them when we were kids.
And sitting at the top of nostalgic mountain is a group that may be some of the most recognizable characters in history. They have been read, re-read, celebrated and enjoyed by far too many generations to count. They are loved by all and cherished by most. They are the fictional creation of a genius.
They are Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang and they have been temporarily transported from Richmond Times Dispatch to the Firehouse Theatre.
“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” follows the entire Peanuts crew and makes assumptions as to what they may have been like had their story continued into the world of high school. The whole gang is here but things a little bit different. Linus has lost his blanket. Pigpin is addicted to sex. Tricia and Marci throw back vodka like they’re Amy Winehouse.
Oh, yeah. And Charlie Brown is gay.
After losing his beloved companion Snoopy to a freak accident, Charlie Brown, identified in the show as CB, goes on a mental quest to understand what happens when we die in an attempt to come to terms with his loss. Unfortunately for him, the friends who were never there for him growing up don’t share the same interest in solving one of life’s greatest mysteries.
The show, directed by Billy Christopher Maupin, takes us on a dark and comedic route through some of life’s most unfortunate moments by allowing them to be explored with awkward tendencies that only a group like Peanuts could successfully pull off. The dynamic cast helps these characters, some of which you may have forgotten about, jump right off the comic strip and into a story that will have you memorized from the opening lines. These characters may be generations old, but they are brought back to life with such poise and precision that we often feel like we are simply meeting a group of old friends for a happy hour on the rocks.
At it’s core, Dog focuses on a battle that rages on in just about every high school across the country: homo vs. hetero. Even our beloved Peanuts characters aren’t above the constant battle of sexuality preferences and the lines drawn during some scenes are simply gut-wrenching. With an extremely raw and unforgiving script, the talented members of this show consistently deliver their lines with such emotion, you may begin to wonder if some moments were even scripted to begin with.
However, don’t let the familiar faces fool you. While this is a tale that involves characters that we know and love, Dog Sees God has much bigger things going on. You may laugh at the fact that Linus is rolling blunts like Snoop after his blanket was destroyed but you will also slump into your seat watching CB struggle to locate his homosexual identity. Sure, these are characters we have met before but they have evolved and have new stories to tell thanks to this evolution. Watching these characters attempt to hit every curve ball their teenage years have decided to throw at them is just as tear jerking as it is downright hilarious.
With the help of an extremely talented cast and crew, Maupin has taken characters that are decades old and helped them become modern and edgy. Yet somehow, he has found a way to re-create these timeless characters and force the audience to root for them in their new and unfamiliar surroundings.
And when the final curtain drops, you might be so overwhelmed from exploring so many of your own emotions that you may want to do nothing more than lean over to Charles Shultz and quietly thank him for creating these incredible characters to begin with.
Dog Sees God plays at the Firehouse Theatre through Saturday, February 26. For tickets and showtimes, click here.
Chad Brown is a straight male living in Richmond. He enjoys bourbon on the rocks and appreciates a firm ass. Male or female.
Frank Britton is beyond creepy in his role as Mr. Roat.October 1, 2014
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