Daily Iowan
February 18, 2010

Exploring censorship


Think of a singing penis, a Heisman Trophy, and a comb phone. Think Poona the F*ckdog.

"It's so over the top," codirector and actor Brian Tanner said, describing the play. "But it seemed like something that would be really fun to do. It didn't feel sophomore for the sake of being offensive - there was some substance to the script, too. It kind of makes you think while you're groaning."

Poona will open at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 10 S. Gilbert St. The play will continue through Feb. 27 with Friday and Saturday shows beginning at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for students, $10 for seniors, and $12 for general audiences.

Dreamwell Theatre opens its 13th season - a season of "Taboo Bijou" - with Poona. The theme of Taboo Bijou looks at current plays that push boundaries and limits by being controversial and confronting subjects that are often difficult or inappropriate to discuss. Poona fits the season because it takes stabs at many different things, such as religion, politics, language, sex, and terrorism.

"There's nothing that's overlooked," Tanner said.

The play is a loose narrative that follows Poona on her quest to find someone to play in her big pink box with smaller, different fairy tales along the way. She meets aliens, talking shrubs, and a man who can sell anything. Along the way, Poona discovers her identity and herself.

"It's how culture is affecting her and her life," codirector and actor Meg Dobbs said. "Poona does come to some realization by the end of the play of what culture does and what she should have done."

The title of the play makes it obvious that Poona is for mature audiences because of explicit language and adult situations. If people will be bothered by the play, Dobbs said, they're going to know right away not to attend.

Poona has a direct connection to Iowa City - the playwright, Jeff Goode, also cofounded No Shame Theatre. Tanner said he thought Goode's main goal with Poona was to invoke discussion on the different topics in the play.

"It's kind of a hit and run," Tanner said. "[Goode] throws a lot at you."

Although Goode wrote the play 11 years ago, the directors said the cultural references don't seem to be dated too much. The play explores scenes with pre-9/11 terrorism and how video-game violence leads to desensitization. Dobbs and Tanner said such scenes leave them mesmerized.

Despite having an avant-garde theme, the set and costumes of Ponna don't fit the extravagent stereotype one would expect. Tanner said the focus is rather on the characters and script.

In a community that Dobbs feels is open to new types of art, she said the audiences will be able to connect with the play.

"This is an Iowa City play," she said. "Not that it doesn't speak to other audiences elsewhere; it's hard to imagine people who wouldn't enjoy it."