The Stranger
May 21, 2010

A Whole 'Nutha Poona!

posted by ADRIAN RYAN

One million years ago now (uh, circa 1999), Open Circle Theater produced one of the longest-running and most dearly beloved fringe theater works of the age, Poona the Fuckdog. Poona was billed as "bedtime stories for grownups", and, as my original, one-million-year -old review of the show clearly asserts:

It is an X-rated morality play that touches upon every evil of American society: sexuality reduced to commodity, rampant consumerism, slavery to mass media, the desensitization of children through animated violence, consequence-free murder, nuclear holocaust, racism, classism, and all that other fun junk. And it does this without ever reducing itself to wagging its finger in your face. Poona reinvents every social cliché as if it were a naughty and very funny joke told by an intelligent kindergartner," and that the (then) explosively un-PC script had, among other things, two characters who "Tossed around the two most offensive words in the English language like a Frisbee."

(Those words were "nigger" and "cunt", respectively, if you must know.)

It was a delightful show, one I truly loved, and it ran forever between two theaters, Open Circle (then down in Denny Regrade or whatever) and Re-Bar (down where, um, Re-Bar still is).

But the age of PC is long since dead, its corpse nicely and justly rotted. This is the age of Obama. The true and singularily 90s power of ironic cynicism has waned to a pathetic whine. The "two most offensive words in the language" have lost any resonant significance whatsoever, even ironically, in this age when someone like Lisa Lampenelli can drop each of those words 125 times in twenty seconds during any of her stand-up shows and no one flinches— and toss in 75,000 "faggots", several trillion "spics", and even a "chink" or twelve, when she gets on a role, to boot. Much-to-most of Poona's original charm was dependant on the didactic counterpoint of irony VS alleged and so-called "Political Correctness."

So what kind of Poona are we left with?

Ron Sandahl, Artistic Director of OCT, weighs in:

The world hasn't really fixed any of the things that the show riffs on: prudery, casual racism/ sexism, terrorism, stupidity, internet violence, the inability by the individual to effect change. If you'd asked about the humor in the "Age of Obama" right after the election when everyone thought he was going to change the world, I might have had some qualifiers. But now with the far left feeling betrayed and everyone else just waiting, it does feel I bit like Clinton Era, just with all the money gone.

I think this show and cast compare very favorably to the original show. Plus, I think in a number of ways it excels the original. For one, it had someone direct who had given the show 10 years of thought, plus had already been through it all once and had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted to keep and what not. I think this show is more controversial today than when it was written. All the right wing out jobs, evangelicals and tea bag nitwits all feel emboldened to jump all over anyone for the slightest thing these days and who knows what those loons will do.

Who, indeed. Poona the Fuckdog has been extended at Open Circle Theater through May 29th. More info here.