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August 9, 2010 | by  | in Theatre |
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Dog Sees God

I’m going to be honest with you. I have read maybe three Peanuts comic strips in my life. I don’t have any deep-seated hatred for it or anything of the sort. I’ve just never gotten into it; I’m sure it’s great. This puts me somewhat on the back foot when reviewing Dog Sees God, a play that centres on the concept of what the Peanuts gang would be up to in high school. Or, at least, I thought it did. One of Dog’s strengths is its openness; someone with no knowledge of the source material whatsoever can enjoy this show without feeling like they’re missing something.

However, Playwright Bert V. Royal has written a mass of contradictions into Dog Sees God. In a play that actively seeks to explore the facts and repurcussions of bullying, the audience is constantly invited to laugh at (as opposed to with) the protagonists. The contradiction of a play that asks its audience to judge themselves for the cruelty we inflict on each other in the same breath as getting you to laugh mockingly at the characters is not addressed to any satsifying degree, and there is the distinct air of Royal trying to have his cake and eat it too.

It is also far too long. This production advertises a 75-minute running time but, on opening night, ran to 100 minutes. Characters endlessly repeat themselves, every joke is riffed on just a bit too long and every plot point is stated and over-stated into oblivion.

Lori Leigh, the director, clearly feels a deep connection to this text and it’s a pity that, at least for me, that passion did not transmit. Leigh is a talented director with a good eye for images and great sense of shaping scenes. She has gathered a talented cast and crew who together have produced an amazingly well put-together show. They should all be immensly proud of their work towards this production and it really should be noted that the audience I saw this show with had a very good time. It’s just a pity that they’re working with a text that shoots itself so heavily in the foot.

Dog Sees God : Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
wri. Bert V. Royal
dir. Lori Leigh
perf. Alex Greig, Alison Walls, Anna Harcourt, David Goldthorpe, Jessica Aaltonen, Louise Burston, Paul Waggott and Theo Taylor

At BATS (www.bats.co.nz), 8.30pm, 3 – 14 August
book@bats.co.nz / (04) 802 4175

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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