Center Stage with Pat Launer on KSDS JAZZ88
AIRDATE: JUNE 11, 2010
One’s quintessentially English; the other is soul-searchingly American: Noël Coward and Charlie Brown. Okay, I know; one’s real, the other’s fictional. But the witty British bon vivant is the perfect antidote to the comic strip sadsack . And vice versa. In their own unique genres, they’re lighting up local stages.
In “Dog Meets God,” Charlie Brown and his buddies have finally graduated out of first grade. They’re in high school, and boy, have they gone sour. Linus is a stoner; Patty’s a slut. PigPen has turned into a compulsive germophobe . Lucy is incarcerated for putting a match to the little red-headed girl’s little red head. Schroeder, still at the piano, is gay. Snoopy got rabies, and in a slobbering state of madness, ate Woodstock and had to be put to sleep. And CB is still looking for the meaning of life.
Since the palindromic play isn’t authorized, the characters’ real names can’t be used. So Patty is now Tricia, Linus is Beethoven and Sally is just plain lost, Goth at one moment, a wild-eyed performance artist the next. Nobody shows up for Snoopy’s memorial. But that doesn’t stop CB from asking everyone what they think happens after you die. He pours out his angst to the penpal who never responds.
Death is a through-line in this darkly comic, foul-mouthed fantasy written by Bert V. Royal in 2004. Since these are comic book characters, it’s understandable that some of them would be … well, a tad cartoonish. But at InnerMission Productions, under the whimsical direction of Kym Pappas, the cast is a hoot. The scene changes are too fussy, but there are plenty of laughs, along with the poignancy.
Nothing poignant in the biting invective of Noel Coward’s perennially popular “Private Lives.” The 1930 comedy is so deliciously acidic, you can’t help but lap it up.
Two couples, side by side on their French honeymoons. But one from each pair had been wildly, tempestuously wed and divorced. Now they’ve married more staid and sensible partners — and they’re bored to distraction. So, when they discover each other again, they’re re-impassioned – and they run off to Paris . The left-behind mates follow after and insanity ensues – including the ransacking of a beautifully appointed flat through all manner of unsavory, less-than-civilized behavior.
At Cygnet Theatre, Sean Murray and Shana Wride make a delectable duo, both insufferably self-centered and insouciant. The acidic one-liners drop like rain on hot pavement; they positively sizzle. As the neglected seconds, Jessica John and Manny Fernandes are perfectly unendurable. With Murray and his associate artistic director Francis Gercke co-directing, the verbal and physical timing are flawless. The set and lighting are stunning, the costumes as smart as the quippy dialogue.
Two countries, two centuries of relationships on the rocks. How cynical and comical can it get?
The InnerMission production of “Dog Sees God” runs through June 27, at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights .
“Private Lives” continues through July 3, at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town .
©2010 PAT LAUNER