BY JACKSON CLINE
Are solo moments in a play ever truly solo moments? Even if a scene may seem isolated or superfluous at first, they are always leading the audience closer to uncovering the big picture.
I recently added a production of Dog Sees God at the Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre. In a show filled with many short scenes featuring only a few characters, it’s easy to think of Dog Sees God as an ensemble show. However, it’s also easy to forget that the company is one ensemble working towards a common goal.
I was particularly struck by how powerful the staging of the final scene was due to the ensemble cast’s strong execution of individual moments that led us there.
At the top of this scene, CB, portrayed by Kevin Martinez, stands alone, holding a letter he has received from his pen pal. The rest of the company then joins him onstage, each reading a portion of the letter out loud.
The letter ends with a powerful message: “Maintain in your heart all that keeps you who you are. You are a good man.”
One by one, each member of the company touches CB on the shoulder, giving him strength to move forward following the death of a dear friend.
Over the past 90 minutes, we’ve come to know each character – all inspired by Charles Schulz’s Peanuts -- as a unique individual. Although each expresses it in a wildly different way, everyone is trying to overcome many of the same fears and obstacles that teenagers face as they start to grow up.
We’ve been paralyzed by Haulston Mann’s Matt, who violently bullies others to build up his own self-esteem.
We’ve chuckled at Sam Morales attempts to find herself by trying on many a persona as CB’s Sister.
We’ve pondered the great questions of life with Andrew O’Shanick as Van.
We’ve come to understand what could drive Van’s Sister, portrayed by Danielle Sue Jordan, to commit arson.
We’ve seen party girls Marcy and Tricia, portrayed by Autumn Guzzardi and Genvieve Johnson, belittle others in an attempt to overcome their own insecurities.
And we’ve had our hearts melted by Levin Valayil as Beethoven, terrified of what will happen if he lets the world know who he really is.
Suddenly, each of these people who seemed so different just moments before is performing the same action with a similar intention.
It is clear that they are one ensemble with a common intention: to uplift a friend in need. The simple transfer of energy from palm to shoulder has filled CB with the spirit of the company.
Even in this very solitary moment, they are working as one.