By STEPHANIE OTTEY
“Dog Sees God” is a popular choice for low-budget theater houses and universities because it packs a big punch for little expense. It tackles some important issues, is highly relatable to young adults and teens, and requires nothing as far as set is concerned, so it’s no surprise to see it as the second selection for the Alpha Psi Omega Blackbox show this season at Youngstown State University Theater.
Members of Alpha Psi Omega, the theater honor society, produced the show with a budget of only a few hundred dollars.
David Palmer should be commended just for agreeing to direct. It’s gutsy to accept such a challenge; but he also should be applauded for delivering a solid production.
“Dog Sees God,” by Bert V. Royal, hit the scene about a decade ago and has remained sadly relevant. The play focuses on abuse, bullying and the search for identity that many teens struggle with today. These issues are brought forth under the guise of a grown-up “Peanuts” gang, minus Snoopy.
The script isn’t endorsed by Charles Schultz, creator of the famous comic strip, so Royal has renamed the teen versions of those old characters, and much of the fun of the play comes from seeing their fates revealed one scene at a time.
That being said, the show’s impact also relies heavily on shock value. It’s a clever concept, but the script’s long line of vulgar language, sexual innuendo, drug abuse and psychosis gets tiresome.
Palmer’s cast does a nice job of making the Peanuts gang seem human. Patrick Hobby, Emily Shipley, Matthew Malloy, John Cruz, Cory Davis, Kelly Sullivan, Ashley Whited and Natalie Martzial develop real connections on stage, making many moments surprisingly emotional.
Palmer’s talented team of designers includes Sara Oliver, whose simple sets act as a blank canvas; Cheney Morgan’s lighting; Shawna Jones, whose sound wittily fills scene changes; and Brittney Grant, whose costumes transform the iconic clothing into adult garb.
“God Sees Dog” will be staged at 7:30 tonight and 3 p.m. Sunday in Spotlight Arena, Bliss Hall. Call 330-941-3105.