EMOTIONAL- Chad Pitura

Ignition Theatre presents Dog Sees God at The Matchbox

Play portrays Peanuts characters dealing with range of ‘teen’ issues

Ignition Theatre is gearing up for the next installment in its Signature Series with Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead at The Matchbox Theatre.

Shows run Feb. 17-19 and 22-26 with curtain at 7:30 p.m. The acclaimed play, an off-Broadway smash, features the Peanuts gang as teens facing a range of heavy-duty issues, so it’s not Charlie Brown and company as some might expect. Instead, it’s a story tapping into sensibilities ranging from dramatic and gut wrenching to really funny, says artistic director Matt Grue.

“I would still primarily describe it as a comedy,” he explains, adding he’s been drawn to the script for some time but it just didn’t seem like the right fit into particular seasons – until now.

“I read it going into this season and something new clicked with me. I think I really got the play for the first time. I knew it would be a perfect fit, and finally decided to just go for it and see what happens.

“It’s also mostly about an experience, so you get a little bit of everything.”

The story picks up as CB’s dog dies from rabies, and he starts questioning the existence of an afterlife. But helpful input is tough to find – his best friend is too burnt out to provide coherent speculation. His sister has gone goth. And his ex-girlfriend has been institutionalized.

But a chance meeting with an artistic kid, the target of bullying, offers CB a peace of mind and launches a friendship that pushes teen angst to the limit, says Grue, adding that drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion and sexual identity collide and escalate toward an ending that’s both haunting and hopeful.

“This is a play that says ‘We’re not sugar-coating what it is to be a teenager’. We’ll show you exactly what it is, and it doesn’t matter that it’s with Peanuts characters. That will provide some framework for the whole thing and will give some laughs, but the truth is that this is what teens go through.”

Things don’t necessarily wrap up neatly either but that’s similar to the nature of the famed comic strip, says Grue. “I think the whole point of the comic strip was life goes on and it’s how we get through it. That’s sort of the theme of the play too.”

The production features Ryan Matilla as CB, Mari Chartier as CB’s sister, Chris Cook as Matt, Chad Pitura as Beethoven, Starlise Waschuk as Tricia, Chantel Hutchison as Marcy and Paul Sutherland as Van. The names don’t match the Peanuts characters per se, but audiences will certainly recognize who is who, adds Grue.

“The cast has been unreal to work with. They’re all so good and bring so much to the table,” says Grue.

“I also feel that if people will give it a chance, and get past the things that may shock them a little bit, that it’s incredible how smart this play is.”

Rounding out the creative team are Cindy Ridge (set design), Patrick Beagan (lighting design), Dustin Clark (sound), Clayton Hitchcock (costume design) and stage manager Stephanie Ridge.

Also, Grue is hopeful local teens will check out the show as well. To that end, he’s opened up the Wednesday evening of the second week to any high school student who would like to see the production – free of charge.

“Let us know and we’ll get you in.”

Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for students and seniors and are available at The Matchbox box office by calling 403-341-6500 and visiting www.ignitiontheatre.ca.

For more information, visit Ignition Theatre online at www.ignitiontheatre.ca.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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