The phrase that drew me in to read further was “Good Grief! Ever wonder whatever happened to the beloved Peanuts gang?” Well, um, having been fully invested in the shenanigans of the Peanuts as a kid – why yes I’m intrigued – and I read on. Playing at a local theatre in Silverlake was “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”. I promptly secured tickets.
The 90-minute story follows the gang a decade later – they are in high school (unfortunately we went on closing night because I would go see it again and highly recommend it to others). Charlie Brown, now known as CB, is left questioning the existence of an afterlife after his dog dies from rabies. None of the gang show up for Snoopy’s funeral save for Sally – who is struggling with her teenage identity and who has gone goth – this week. Linus, (now known as “Van”) having been obviously prone to addiction, is a burnout, and Lucy, who at some point in her life has engaged in a relationship with CB, has been institutionalized and labeled a sociopath after she lights the little red haired girl’s hair on fire.
Matt has become a coke snorting, womanizing, bullying germaphobe after having spent his childhood wallowing in filth and now becomes violent at the mere mention of the moniker “Pig Pen”. Tricia, or Patricia, or as we fondly remember her “Peppermint Patty”, is obsessed with Frieda (who was really only known as the girl with the naturally curly hair). Marcie and Tricia are best friends engaging in promiscuous sex and constantly drunk. Marcie is smitten with Matt, and Tricia, obviously boyish as a child, not just obsessed but also perhaps smitten with Frieda.
As with most kids, they all start off as best friends then alienate each other in their teen years like they never knew each other. The target of most of the gang’s bullying is Beethoven (Schroeder) who is still hiding socially behind his piano, but now, apparently, also because he is struggling with his sexuality. It is CB’s friendship with Beethoven, which blossoms into a full sexual relationship, which pushes teen angst to its breaking point.
Drug use, eating disorders, obsession, teen violence, sexual identity, rebellion and ultimately suicide all collide. While it was dark, it was also hopeful. I literally left in tears. I mean, it was about the Peanuts gang – the innocent, heartwarming Peanuts gang that I grew up adoring, but carried a strong message about growing up and how none of us, not even Charlie Brown, are immune to life’s trials and tribulations. It ended with CB reading a letter from his pen pal, who he had written to most of his life and who, thus far, had never responded. It was signed “Sincerely, CS”.