Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ponna the ****Dog (convergence-continuum)

‘POONA THE ****DOG’ is a thought twister at convergence-continuum

A catalog description of ‘POONA THE ****DOG AND OTHER PLAYS FOR CHILDREN,’ now on stage at continuum-convergence, states, “These outrageous fairy tales for grown-ups are not for the easily offended! Poona, our ingenuous heroine, meets up with aliens, talking shrubs, and mealy-mouthed salesmen in her quest to find someone to play in her big pink box. Nothing is sacred in this raucous assault on the power of language.”

For those who are easily upset by foul language or political attacks or questioning of the whys and wherefores of modern society, read no further because this play is not for you, and is definitely not for ANY children. If, on the other hand, you are adventurous, want to stretch your imagination and don’t care about **** words, read on.

Jeff Goode, the author, has written a raucous, funny, and perverse funhouse ride which takes no prisoners as it highlights and attacks sex, relationships, television, advertising, politics, religion and fairy tales themselves.

How does Goode accomplish this? He uses fairy tales to tell the story of Poona the lonely ****dog who spends about two hours pursuing friends to play with.

In the first tale, the dog falls instantly in lust when a handsome and conceited prince crosses her path. If this, like all fairy tales, had a happily-ever-after ending, we’d all be satisfied and on our way. But, the prince turns out to be a people user, taking advantage of our poor naive Poona, so she must look further.

Flip the page of the book and we find the next fairy tale, and then the next, and then the next. The tales are social commentaries, such as when a television set is crowned king of the Kingdom of Do (where nobody did). We see the tale of Suzy-Suzy Cyber assassin who metamorphoses from an innocent child into a hit woman, with the help of a computer. Then there is the tale of the guy who interviews God, and wins $500 by out-smarting the “old” guy. (I told you if that you were easily offended not to read beyond the first paragraph.)

These tales go on and on, alternately offensive, baffling, disgusting, and delightful. As one reviewer put it, ‘POONA THE ***DOG’ is a warped experimental oddity that almost defies description.” Or, just think “Saturday Night Live” on stage.

As with almost all convergence productions, director Clyde Simon does an effective good job of pacing, presents generally clear character development and creative approaches to milking the laughs. In spite of his efforts, his cast is inconsistent in their abilities to develop the multi-characterizations they are required to create.

Jovana Batkovic nicely textures the role of Poona. Lucy Bredeson-Smith milks everything she can out of being a human television set. Denise Astorino, as our storyteller, does a nice job of verbally and visually holding the chaos together. Geoffrey Hoffman is wonderful as the Rabbit. His nose twitching is hutch perfect! Wes Shofner is his usual delightful self as the Man Who Could Sell Anything and “God.” Lisa Bradley’s alien is right out of “Mork and Mindy.”

Most of the rest of the cast has their highs and lows, most often because they cannot sustain consistent characterizations. The singing, other than the vocalilzations of Mark K, leaves much to be desired. This group should definitely not do a musical.

Dan Pongallo and Katie Maurer’s graphic designs are show highlights.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: As with most convergence-continuum shows, ‘POONA THE ***DOG’ is not for everyone. And, as has become the pattern since their theatre was conceived, the nitch audience that identifies with Simon and Executive Director Brian Breth’s philosophy of being in a 60s time-warp, continues to find its way to the 50-seat theatre. This group won’t be disappointed with POONA.