A.V. Club Madison
May 27, 2010

Poona The Fuck Dog makes everyone the butt of the joke

By Andrew Winistorfer

Welcome to Cheap Seats, where every Thursday we'll talk to folks behind the scenes of the stage events opening around town, in order to give you a flavor of the productions that won't be found in any of the promo materials.

Poona The Fuck Dog And Other Plays For Children

Promo pull quote: "This outrageous 'Fairy Tale for Grown-ups' is not for the easily offended. Poona, our ingenuous heroine, meets up with aliens, talking shrubs, and salesmen in her quest to find someone to play in her big pink box."

What it's really about: Poona tussles with a variety of stern topics—commercialism, the Internet, the meaning of life, the power of language, politics, television, the news media, and waiters—in its comedic vignettes about the life of an offensively named dog. "The show takes place in a magical kingdom with talking animals," says producer/Mercury Players Theatre Artistic Director Rachel Jenkins-Bledsoe. "It addresses very adult themes but in a very childlike manner. We're trying to tackle these huge topics in the most playful way we know how."

Fun fact: Poona is one of the more technically difficult plays put on by the Mercury Players Theatre, requiring the creation of an "enchanted forest" at its MercLab warehouse/performance theater and a bevy of wild costumes. In addition, the cast of nine regular Mercury Players is required to play 17 total characters in the play, leading to a lot of costume changes.

And given the play's title and topics, it's also one of the riskiest plays the Mercury Players have staged: "There is not one group who I can think of that is not offended or the butt of joke here in some way," says Jenkins-Bledsoe. "But it's also the essence of who Mercury is. We take risks, we want to have fun."

Best reason to try it: What? The title wasn't enough of a sell for your prurient mind? The A.V. Club is pretty sure spending the holiday weekend with a "fuck dog" is the plot of more than a few W.A.S.P. songs. But if you want to wait a week, Poona's writer Jeff Goode will be in attendance for the shows next Friday and Saturday (June 4 and 5) to do talkbacks with the crowd after the play.