On Milwaukee - May 26, 2005

Racy "Poona" provides late-night entertainment
By Russ Bickerstaff

Bialystock and Bloom's late night theater series concludes with a feverish satire by one of the freshest young playwrights on the national scene. "Poona the F***Dog and Other Tales for Children" is a series of short fairy-tales for the dirty little kid in everyone. B&B brings one of Goode's most popular plays to Milwaukee with style and form that make for a thoroughly entertaining late evening of comedy.

Nate Press opens the play in the role of The Storyteller who begins some of the stories. Press competently delivers some of the best lines in the play with a non-abrasive stage presence. His first tale features the title character in an episodic story that continues throughout the production.

Jocelyn Ridgely plays the title character in some of the best scenes of the production. Poona is an innocent little dog of unfortunate social standing. No one wants to play with her until her Fairy God Phallus (Eric Cherney) comes along and gives her a big pink box to play in. Poona then begins her quest to find people to play with her in her big pink box.

Brian Moore, bearing a striking resemblance to a young Alec Baldwin, first appears onstage as a Handsome Prince. The Prince is the first to play with Poona in her box. She is henceforth obsessed with the self-centered Prince in a tale that establishes Poona's sexual identity. Poona's prowess in the box leads her to become the central hero in a series of stories which, like any good fairy tale, delivers an important lesson.

Jeff Goode, probably best known locally for his holiday comedy "Eight: Reindeer Monologues," which was a big hit for In Tandem Productions, works extremely well with short subject pieces. While none of the individual stories is particularly long, all the fairy tales fit into the same thematic framework, forming a much longer narrative.

Bialystock and Bloom's cast is quite dynamic. There are some excellent performances here. Patrick Holland puts in a memorable performance as The Man Who Could Sell Anything, but his performance as God is amazing.

Cherney lends a quiet dignity to the stage, whether playing a journalist or dressed convincingly as a giant penis. Ridgely is endlessly sweet as Poona, even when the character shows her darker side. Anne Miller teams with Moore in a fun performance as a pair of aliens. They performed rather annoying roles with a degree of charm not present in the script alone.

Bialystock and Bloom's production of "Poona the F***Dog and Other Tales for Children" plays through June 25 at the Broadway Theatre Center's Studio Theater. Advance tickets can only be purchased by calling Bialystock and Bloom directly at (414) 223-0479.