Play Review: Dog days with Charlie Brown


Nicole Hayek/ Mesa Press

Charlie and Vans Sister discuss the burdensome topics consuming his high school mind

Nicole Hayek, Editor-in-Chief

From May 5th to 14th, an amazing collaboration took place at the Appoliad Theater as students, faculty, family, and friends united to dive into the charming world of the Mesa College Theatre Company’s production, “Dog Sees God: Concessions of a Teenage Blockhead.” This admirably crafted play, written by Bert V. Royal and directed by George Ye, left an irreversible mark on the audience’s hearts and minds.

Throughout the show, a collection of emotions consumed the audience, from soulful moments that had them fighting tears to feel-good ones that filled the room with laughter. “Dog Sees God” provided a realistic take on Charles M. Schultz’s beloved “Peanuts” characters, investigating the harsh reality of teenage life and exploring difficult topics of conversation such as gender and sexuality, death, and drug use. 

The play revolves around an overpowering question that plagues many young minds: what happens after we die? Charlie Brown, played by Tanner Hudspeth, struggles with the loss of his pet dog, which becomes an agitator for intense conversation regarding life after death. He seeks solace from his friends in the hope to find answers throughout the play but remains unlucky in receiving a rational response. 

Sexuality and homophobia are recurring themes throughout the show, adding depth to the narrative. On Charlie’s quest for consolation, he forms an unexpected connection with Beethoven, played by Dominick Gracie-Barber, who is an outcast of his friend group. Charlie finds himself romantically involved with Beethoven as he begins to question his sexuality, eventually leading to an intense relationship. Their bond, however, weathered harsh storms from Charlie’s friends, exposing the grim reality of homophobia in today’s youth. Complex dynamics come to light when it is revealed that Charlie’s friend Matt, played by Isaac Naftalin, has romantic feelings of his own toward Charlie. 

Miles Goering, as Van, remains the only loyal friend to Charlie throughout the course of his dramatic story, standing as a pillar of support. Vans’ character exposes the invasive presence of drug use among high schoolers, portraying the modern-day stereotype of a stoner. Attentive viewers will notice the infinite haze of smoke surrounding Van, whether from a bong or a vape, which serves as a visual reminder of substance abuse among today’s youth–an effective remark subtly tied into this production. 

Hudspeth, Gracie-Barber, Naftalin, and Goering phenomenally breathed life into the serious messages being delivered by Royal, while maintaining the high spirits needed to captivate the audience. 

Samantha Valle-Kligerman, as Charlie’s Sister, alongside Sam Flowers as Van’s Sister, Luna Camitan as Marcy, and Haely Burgos as Tricia, were essential to the production of the play as their characters addressed several other struggles teens face today.  Charlie’s Sister embarks on a self-discovery journey, embodying various personas throughout the play. Van’s Sister highlights mental health struggles as she wrestles with institutionalization and opens up about teen pregnancy. Tricia and Marcy relentlessly torment Freida, a distant classmate, emphasizing the issue of bullying in schools. Together, these characters helped to tackle the pressing real-world issues presented in the play,  while injecting moments of humor, drama, and emotion.

The production was made possible not only by the exceptional cast but also by the production team and crew. There was clear meticulous attention to detail in preparation for the event, making it a highly enjoyable evening for the audience. The MCTC showed its devotion to brilliance in its grand execution of “Dog Sees God.”